Author: Steve Troyer
There are so many rewarding things about being a dad. But one of the hardest things that no one prepares you for is how to respond to your children when they need correction. One of the lessons I learned along the way, was that there is a difference between discipline out of frustration, and discipline out of love.
Discipline out of frustration is out of the fear of losing control. Often times it looks like raising your voice, which is another sign that you have in fact lost control. I should know; because I have found myself there on a number of occasions. But what frustrated discipline produces is a shame culture; like raising your voice saying, “I can’t believe that you did that…”. A shame culture will never prove successful in shaping a young person into the person God has created them to become.
Discipline out of love however says, “I love you enough to bring some short-term painful consequences now, so that there are not costly consequences later.” An old proverb says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). As parents, you need to be the one who defines what those consequences are. One thing I remember my dad doing was reassuring me that the discipline that we both knew needed to happen was out of his love for me. He would often ask me to choose between two different forms of discipline, which was quite smart, because it seemed to take dad out of the equation as the one behind the discipline. But, it gave me healthy boundaries, and reassured me that my dad was not against me, but wanted the best for me.
The worst thing a parent can do, is tell a child the consequences but keep on holding off delivering them. “If you keep doing that, you are going to lose your privileges…”; and every time they do it, we say it again, but this time with more force, and so on… I think as parents we can do that because it is just too much work at times, or we think it is loving to hold off discipline. But, in actual fact, we give out mixed messages to our child so that when we finally hit that breaking point of discipline, we find that nine times out of ten, we end up doing it out of frustration, not out of love. That’s not to say that there are times that it is totally fitting to withhold discipline. But, if all our child gets is frustrated discipline, they end up learning that discipline is about being shamed into good behavior.
We have a loving God who walks with us through our times of discipline and growth. Can I encourage you as parents to love your children through the seasons of correction. It will be tough love, but it’s worth it.