For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (Hebrews 12:6).
God’s corrective care is always in the context of love. He disciplines the one He loves, and when you experience God’s corrections, you’re acutely aware that He loves you. God is continuously surveying the scene of your life not to critique you but to pour out His extravagant love on you. A gospelized parent is similar, constantly “surveying the scene” of a child’s life because he loves his child and wants to motivate him toward Jesus.
He is not “surveying the scene” because he’s looking for opportunities to criticize. Instead, he wants to catch his child getting it right. Perhaps your child does something wrong, and you must correct him. If so, the Bible’s mandate on helping trapped people is with a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1-2). But, of course, there are times when you can “overlook the offense” because (1) you don’t want to nickel and dime your child to death, and (2) in many cases, the problem will pass.
You can determine these things by asking yourself if it is an episode or a pattern you observe in his life. If it’s an episode, maybe you can let it go. If it’s a developing pattern, you probably have to deal with it. You never want to withhold correction when it is needed because there are times when corrective care is the only way to help your child change, but when you do it, you want to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1) in how you do it. Therefore, it would be best if you contextualized your critique in the overwhelming, never-able-to-fully-express-love that you have for your child.
Lucia and I like to think of it in a 10-to-1 ratio: for every one negative thing we must say to our child, we have already (1) identified, (2) isolated, and (3) encouraged him with ten good things that we have observed in his life. (This ten-to-one ratio is a rule-of-thumb concept, not a legalistic one. It conveys the idea that love for your child is more significant than your disappointment.) If you do not “put money in the bank” of your child’s heart, you will bankrupt him. Furthermore, you will tempt him to all kinds of sins, like deceit, as he hides his actions because he knows “Captain Critique” is just around the corner with a quick to speak and slow to listen mindset (James 1:19).
One of the most valuable parenting tips that have served us is spending time during the day “sneaking around our house” trying to catch our children doing good. Though it’s easy to catch them doing wrong, it takes more intentionality to love them enough to find evidence of God’s grace in their lives. We know that God was behind it if our children do anything well. There is no goodness in any of us without His grace.
These five steps will biblically position you to critique your children: