The Circle of Safety


Parenting is hard. It’s a blast, but it’s also hard. As the father of a two year old boy, I often struggle to discern what behavior requires discipline and what behavior is just because he’s an ornery boy.

First of all, we need to establish the fact that discipline and love go hand in hand. Some parents are tempted to have the mentality that because they love their kids, they shouldn’t discipline them. While disciplining a child may be painful to the parent, it’s God’s command to us.

Note the use of love and discipline in Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

And if you’re worried about hurting your child with discipline, then check out what Proverbs 23:13-14 say: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.”*

Enter Tedd Tripp’s Circle of Safety concept from Ephesians 6:1-3, which basically says that things go well for those who honor and obey their parents. Listen to what Tedd says on pg. 131: “It is imperative that children learn to honor and obey. It will go well for them. Their obedience is not secured so that you can be obeyed for your sake. You must be obeyed for their sakes! They are the beneficiaries of honoring and obeying Mom and Dad.”

As a parent, you are God’s mediator between your child and God. Them learning to obey is not for your sake, but for your child’s! According to Eph. 6:1-3 and the circle of safety, when a child is obedient, they will enjoy long life and things will go well for them. As soon as a child is disobedient, things will not go well for them – every time a child disobeys they are in some sort of physical or spiritual danger.

What I’m proposing today is that you know and understand the circle of safety. Use it as a concept in the back of your mind when you discipline. Once your children are old enough, you could even draw the circle and explain it to them so they understand that you are not just disciplining out of your ideals, but God’s.

When they understand that parenting and discipline are God’s plan for their safety, and what can happen when they move out of the circle, they may want to stay inside the circle more often.

Lord, thank you for the blessing of children. Parenting is so fun, but so challenging sometimes. Please give me wisdom as I discipline my children in love. In the end, please let this act of love point them to their heavenly Father. In Jesus name, Amen.




*Please note that there are correct and incorrect ways to use the rod. I recommend reading all of Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” to learn how he recommends disciplining through spanking. He has great thoughts on accountability with it to ensure you aren’t doing it out of anger, etc. Also, communication with your child is of the utmost importance when disciplining. 





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