Three BIG Parenting Mistakes

By Sabrina Schlesinger


Holy cow, there is a lot assumed in that title! Can we just state the obvious for a second? I am no expert. I do NOT know it all, and will never claim to. I am learning and growing as a parent right along side of you. Ok, so now that THAT is out of the way, let’s take a look at how we discipline our kids…because there actually are wrong and right ways according to God’s Word.

What does it mean to discipline? Because when we read that word, for many of us, we have differing opinions on what that means based on our own experiences and upbringing. For this article, let’s look at it through the same filter.

Discipline is correction driven by love and guidance motivated by love. Each child is unique and responds to different methods of discipline. It is our responsibility as a parent to figure out what works best for our child and to be faithful to administer discipline at the appropriate time in the appropriate way. Discipline isn’t something we do TO our children, it is something we do FOR them.

But our culture can live on the extremes of discipline. It is either, “I will dominate you” and it crushes the child’s spirit, or they don’t discipline at all, leaving the child to lead themself. Proverbs 29:15,17 says, “To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child…Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.” (NLT)

Parents, we need to understand there is a major battle going on in our homes for who is going to be in charge. This is a battle we must win, not so we can have bragging rights and lord it over them, but so we can lead them, guide them, and train them in the best way possible.

Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” (NLT)

Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (NLT)

The reality is, it takes discipline to discipline. But can we be honest? It seems a lot easier to just let our kids throw the tantrum, to give them what they want, and give into their demands. It feels easier to just yell at them, send them to their rooms, or turn on the TV and have them get distracted. But we must remember that although discipline may be more work on the front end, this is an investment we must make, as it will reap great dividends and rewards in the long run.

Let’s take a look at three different types of undisciplined parents. If you are anything like me, I can see myself in all of them and have much room for improvement.

1.    Lifeguard Parents

This is the parent that often rescues a child from their consequences. How do you know if you are a lifeguard parent?

  • If you delivered little (or not so little) Johnny his lunch three or more times in the last semester because he forgot it again
  • If you defended your child before ever having heard the other side of the story
  • If you paid for your child’s speeding ticket
  • If you give into every whine and fit when they don’t get their way

There are times we need to teach our kids mercy-meaning not giving them what they deserve-but there is a fine line between giving mercy and enabling our children. Enabling parents have great intentions. They think they are helping their child, but in truth, they are stunting their child’s maturity.

In life, as our kids grow older, they are going to learn that choices have consequence. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (NKJV)  When they live outside of God’s parameters according to His Word, there will be consequences. When they disobey the laws of the land, there will be consequences. When they break the rules of their school or employment, there will be consequences.

If we really love our children, we will want to prepare them for success. Rather than raise privileged, entitled, and spoiled children, let’s stop the madness of rescuing them from ever feeling the pain and discomfort of their choices. Instead, let’s parent them with 20 years in mind, helping and teaching them that the choices they make matter.

2.    Etch A Sketch Parents

I am a child of the 80’s and I would play with this toy for hours. The ultimate challenge was making a circle, which I never seemed to have mastered. But what I could do was make an awesome straight line! (Impressive, I know!) The genius behind Etch A Sketch was if you messed up or didn’t like it, all you had to do was give it a good shake and all your lines disappeared.

An Etch A Sketch parent is one who is inconsistent. They draw lines in the sand one day, and the next day those lines don’t seem to even exist.

You are an Etch A Sketch parent if:

  • One day you correct your child for doing something wrong and the next day nothing is said or done about it at all
  • You are known for never following through on your  consequences
  • You give empty threats (For example: I am going to take away all of your toys if you don’t clean your room)

Here is the problem with this kind of parenting…Inconsistent parents create insecure children. Our kids thrive within boundaries. If they never know what is going to set us off and if they never know what gets them in trouble, then they will grow up confused and unsure. They may also grow up with an unspoken fear of us and feel like they have to walk around on eggshells because they never know what kind of parent they are going to wake up to.

Threatening our kids is NOT discipline. Counting to three is NOT discipline. When we do this, we are actually teaching them they have three times to disobey us before something (or nothing) happens. In our home we tell our kids, “Obedience is doing what I say right away, with the right attitude.” God is pretty clear about obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience, and disobedience brings an onslaught of trouble into our lives. So why would we teach our kids to delay their response to our instructions? How is that helping them rightly relate to God? And how is that helping them live a blessed and successful life?

When your kids break the rules, take a minute. That way you can be sure to hand out the appropriate response for their choices. Then all you have to do is simply follow through. Your kids may not thank you for this today, but when they have kids of their own, you might get a few phone calls of gratitude!

3.    Split-Decision Parents

These are the parents who are not on the same page. One parent disciplines one way, and the other another way. They are constantly undermining each other and don’t see eye-to-eye on how to bring correction and instruction to their kids.

One of the most important things we can do as parents is to agree and remain unified in front of our children. They need to know that mom and dad are a team that can’t be divided. Kids aren’t dumb. At a very young age they will figure out how to play one parent against the other. They will discover which parent is the disciplinarian and which one is the pushover.

Here are some tips to stop being Split-Decision Parents:

  •  Never disagree with each other in front of the kids. If you need a minute, have the kids leave the room or put the conversation on hold so you can come to an agreement privately. Undermining your spouse in front of your child only brings negative results.
  • Discuss and decide privately how you will discipline your children. Come to an agreement on what the consequences will be. The time you take together doing this will bring peace to your marriage and a little healthy fear to your child as they await their ruling.
  • Tag-team it. When you are on the same team, you have the same goal. And at times you can get tired or your frustration can start to boil over and you need a time out. Here is where your spouse can tag in. Sometimes the other parent may not realize they need a break and you can step in and say, “Let me take over for a few.” This keeps angry reactions and outburst at bay and helps you both discipline your kids with a clear head and right motivations.

At the end of the day, our litmus test will be, “Do our kids make right decisions when they are on their own?” Our goal as parents is to move our children from parent-control to self-control to God-control. Let’s together move away from being undisciplined parents so we can set our kids up for a life filled with success and rewards.

Love + Blessings,


Sabrina is a mother to three girls and one boy. She is also a pastor’s wife, a freelance graphic designer, and a mom coach! She resides in beautiful San Diego where the sun shines every day. She prefers chai lattes over coffee, mac-n-cheese over vegetables, and staying in over going out. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!


Sabrina Schlesinger

I am officially middle-aged! I have gone up the hill and am now SLOWLY going down the other side.

I am married to my best friend! No really! Our first 10 months of dating were spent entirely in group settings, either working along side each other in ministry or at our families homes. We never had alone time. We never held hands. We never kissed. So we had a great amount of time to talk and really get to know each other. We read books, received counsel from our pastors, discussed our strengths and weaknesses in front of our parents, and built a foundation of friendship that I am forever grateful for. And let me tell you...when we did have our first kiss 10 months in....there were fireworks baby!!!! We are approaching our 17th anniversary and co-pastor Grace Church in Oceanside, CA. We are living out or dream and calling side by side.

I am a mom of 4. We have three girls and a boy.

When we gave birth to my first girl, Sophie (now 16), we thought we were amazing parents. She slept through the night, hardly every fussed, was beautiful and easy. First child syndrome...I know.

When I gave birth to Mattie (now 14) nearly two years later everything changed. She was colicky from the start, she had red raspberries on her face that turned BRIGHT RED when she that was all the time, and as she grew, it didn't get any better. I seriously thought at one point she was demon possessed because her outrageous fits where over the top. I could often be found in a fetal position crying when Matthew, my husband came home. Little did I know then that Mattie and her over-the-top fits would be the catalyst for so many future ministry moments with other moms in desperate need of help and advice on raising toddlers...who too were crazy!

We thought we were done. After Mattie I was like, "No way, I can't risk having another kid like that! The only way I will get pregnant again is if God speaks to me directly, and I don't think He is planning that." Welp....I was wrong. I heard God speak to me one night as I was at a conference that we were to have a third child and He spoke some very special promises to me about this child. So out popped Lillian (aka Lily - now 11).

Lily wass one of those babies that everyone gravitated too. She had and still does have a spirit about her that is so welcoming, loving, and kind. People just love her and she loves people. I am so glad I obeyed the Lord on this one. After Lily we felt done. This time Matthew said, "If we are supposed to have any more children, God is going to have to speak to me directly." Fast forward 9 years!

In August of 2016 we were on a much needed family vacation, the five of us. It was at this time that God whispered in the ear of my husband that we were to adopt a child from our county. Matthew told me what God said and of course, I said, "Let's do it!" I will write another post about our adoption story later, but November 1st, 2017, at age 4 1/2, Shawn (now 6) came into our home and became our son.

I am a freelance graphic designer by trade and a pastor by calling, but I felt like there was something more I should be doing. Recently I asked myself a question..."What brings me life?" It was easy for me to answer. I LOVE helping young moms navigate through motherhood. I love giving advice to help moms get through tough and trying seasons of life. There is a generation of moms out there who have broken relationships with their own mothers and feel like they have no one to turn to. That breaks my heart. No mom should have to go through life alone with nobody to lean on. And this is where Mom Mentor was birthed.

So that is me in a nutshell. I am pretty simple, not high maintenance, a lover of mac-and-cheese and chai lattes, and slightly obsessed with all things dystopian. I am glad to have met you and I look forward to our journey together!

Love & Blessings,