Discipline and the Single Mom

We are given approximately 18 years to train and shepherd each of our children, and this includes disciplining them when they get off track. One of the most challenging responsibilities for a single mom is executing this discipline alone. 

In the wake of loss, a grieving child’s behavior may understandably undergo profound shifts, leaving the single mother grappling with questions about the appropriateness of discipline during such emotionally hard times. And it is a valid concern. While discipline remains important, it is equally important to approach it with sensitivity and understanding tailored to the unique season of grief in which the child finds themselves. For example, parents should be careful not to discipline their children when they are physically weary or have high emotions. And disciplining out of anger or fear is detrimental for all. 

Wisdom is in understanding the motive behind their disobedience while not giving excuses for rebellion time and time again.

Scripture teaches that discipline is God’s idea, and it affirms His love for us. 

“My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:5-11, NLT).

Parents are called not to neglect the essential task of teaching their children, as the Bible tells us that this is the way of life! Scripture offers overarching principles on discipline, while the Holy Spirit serves as our guide in addressing specific issues of discipline.

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (Isaiah 40:11, NLT).


In advance, clearly communicate both the rules and expectations to your child, along with the intended disciplinary measures concerning the following offenses:

  • Disobedience to clear commands: Teach the value of obedience, emphasizing that obedience brings peace while disobedience brings chaos.
  • Disrespectful attitude or behavior: Address the importance of respect towards others, instilling the significance of respectful interactions.
  • Deception and lying: Highlight the moral implications of dishonesty by referencing John 8:44, which equates deceit with aligning oneself with Satan, the father of lies.
  • Disregard for others or their property: Emphasize the significance of consideration for others and their belongings, fostering a sense of responsibility and respect for personal boundaries.


While there is a great new focus on gentle parenting, remember you can be kind and gentle without withholding discipline when our kids make poor choices. 

6 Scriptures to Anchor our Discipline 

The following verses, even though uncomfortable, are helpful. In the midst of my child-raising years, I wrote these out as a reminder of what God’s Word said about discipline when it was painful for me to carry through with it. 

  1. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Prov. 13:24, NIV).
  2. “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29, NIV).
  3. “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire” (Proverbs 29:17, NIV). 
  4. “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9, NASB).
  5. “My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life” (Proverbs 6:20-23)
  6. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).


God will be faithful to keep His word and cares more for our children than we ever could.