Why We Don’t Punish Our Kids

Sara Wallace | July 19, 2016

In 2013, 16-year-old Cooper Van Huizen was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing his father’s gun. The gun was used in a violent burglary, and the boy was held responsible for providing it. His family sobbed as he was led away to a maximum-security prison. Cold, hard justice had been served.

Switch scenes. The setting is my living room. The 4-year-old just wrecked his brother’s Lego pirate ship (with a mischievous grin, of course).

Court is in session. A brief defense is given by both parties. A decision is made, and a consequence is given.

But this is where a Christian home takes a dramatic shift from a courtroom. The boy in the court case faced punishment. My son faces something very different: discipline.

Discipline vs. Punishment 

The word “punishment” comes from the root “pun,” from which we get words like “punitive” and “penalty.” Punitive, penalty, and punishment all relate to the law and what happens when the law is broken. Punishment is retributive. It means exacting what’s deserved for the committed offense.


As incredible as it sounds, this will never happen to God’s people. Punishment is no longer part of our relationship with God. Christ absorbed every drop of punishment on the cross for us. God isn’t our Judge anymore…

To read the rest of this article, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-we-dont-punish-our-kids.