I’m always interested in learning different ways of handling similar challenges.
The other day, we were at the store, and one child had been struggling with whining. At every turn, she was unhappy about something. She didn’t want to let her brother have a turn in the car portion of the cart, she wanted to hold (and open) her barrettes, she kept squishing her sister until she cried. Lee told her to stop, or they would leave the store. A few minutes later, the whining began again, and so Lee took his little girl away. A few minutes later, he returned with a happy child. When we got home, I asked him what he had done.
He reported that he had taken her to an outside bench, and told her that when she stopped whining and crying, she could go back inside the store. That’s it. She was not allowed to disobey (she suffered the consequences when she disobeyed), she then submitted to authority. These are not optional biblical principles for parents to teach and enforce.
Another mother related a struggle with whining where she carefully taught her son what whining was, carefully taught him that whining was unacceptable, explained the consequences, and then spanked him when he did not obey.
Curious because both actions by the parents resulted the same. In both situations, the parents followed biblical principles applied to a specific situation and saw the peaceable fruit of righteousness. The second mother very well may have tried separation without success. And the first mother (me) may indeed find in the future that separation is ineffective, and may need to choose a different corrective measure.
One of the principles that guides my choices of correction is the knowledge that discipline shouldn’t start out harsh. Remember Paul? He urged the Corinthians to correct their own behavior when he says
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? (I Corinthians 12:21)
Paul did not immediately come straighten out the Corinthian believers with a figurative rod. He challenges them to correct themselves throughout this letter we find in our Bible. This is one reason we ask our children “Are you going to obey?” We want to give them an opportunity to realize they are going the wrong way and fix the problem on their own, just like Paul.
And yet, it is clear from Scripture that we do sometimes receive painful chastening of the Lord. This is worth thinking about some more.