Question: Dr. Dobson, you have said that your philosophy of discipline (and of family advice in general) was drawn from the Scriptures. On what specific verses do you base your views?
Answer: Since God is the Creator of children, He must certainly know how our kids ought to be raised and how our families should function. Indeed, He does! We find in His Word a very consistent and easily understood prescription for parents who want to do things His way. Let me quote a few verses that illustrate this divine wisdom. Note three concepts within them that I have emphasized: (1) The authority of parents is endorsed; (2) discipline is in the best interest of children; (3) discipline must not be harsh and destructive to the child's spirit. Here they are:
He [the father] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) –1 Timothy 3:4-5
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise—"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." –Ephesians 6:1-3
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. –Ephesians 6:4
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. –Colossians 3:20-21
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. [Note the linkage between discipline and respect.] How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. –Hebrews 12:5-11
Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. –Proverbs 29:17, KJV
These Scriptures and related verses contain more wisdom than all the child-development textbooks ever written. They came from the heart of One who flung the stars in space and created Adam from a handful of dust. He makes no mistakes! To summarize the primary theme from all the related biblical passages, it is for parents to shape the will without breaking the spirit. That's the formula. That's the prescription.
From Dr. Dobson's book Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.