God’s marching orders to parents come in Proverbs 22:6. There, He tells us to “raise your children in the ways of the Lord so that, when they grow old, He will not depart from them.” A popular version of Scripture elsewhere cautions us not to “spare the rod and spoil the child.” So, my question to you is this. Is your parenting style power-oriented or relationship-oriented.?
“My kid toes the line,” one parent told me gruffly. “If he doesn’t, I smack him. That’s what God says to do.”
“Well, Joe,” I responded, “That’s one way of looking at it. But tell me, how’s that working for you and your son?”
The rod can be a source of discipline in the home, but the outcome for your child is fear. Fear of being punished is a deterrent to being bad, but do you want your child to fear you? What about his behavior, choices, and relationship does your child learn from a good whipping?
If you are choosing physical punishment for your child’s misbehavior, never whip him while you are angry. Give both of you a time out of up to 30 minutes before the punishment, so that you can calm down. Some parents say, “You know, son, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” While such comment might help you feel less guilty, your child still feels the sting of the whipping.
When you choose power, it most likely comes at the expense of relationship. I choose relationship.
“Joey, what in the world were you thinking? Go to your room and think about what you did, and how you could have avoided this trouble by choosing something different. I’ll be by to talk to you in 30 minutes.”
When you talk with him, use your active listening to understand his feelings and actions. Prompt him to discover other, healthier options to his bad behavior. Find a natural consequence, rather than punishment, that fits the crime. Hitting your son because he hit your daughter just teaches him about payback. Having him apologize to her and do her chores for a week teaches him that actions have consequences. Instead of a whipping, where everybody feels bad, you have the opportunity for a teachable moment. Do you want power or healthy relationship in your home?