I have a few discipline examples today I’ve been thinking about.
For some time we’ve been explaining to our children that they may not say “no” when mom or dad tells them to do something. Recently, we explained that this was disrespectful and they would receive a spanking if they did it. Yesterday afternoon I gave Bethel a clear command (no ambiguity) and she looked me in the eye and said, “No.” So I spanked her. 🙁 Afterward, she gave me the cold shoulder when I tried to hug her, and I thought, “Am I provoking her to wrath?” It’s a good question to ask one’s self, but I think it’s important to understand that NO chastening is pleasant. And since we’re dealing with sin natures who don’t like to be corrected, it’s unreasonable to expect that every time we discipline (in any way, spanking or not), our children are going to immediately recognize its benefit or conclude, “I love my my mom.” We fall in a dangerous trap when we rear our children trying to eliminate any negative response whenever we discipline.
The story of David jumping over the napkins illustrates how sometimes it is preferable and effective to avoid a confrontation/ discipline situation. I was in the kitchen making dinner, and the kids had pulled out some old party napkins and arranged them on the floor. Then David started making a line of napkins and jumping over them to see how far he could jump. I told him not to jump, explaining that I did not want him to slip on a napkin.Then I half turned back to the stove, but watched him to see what he would do. Dismissing the danger, he jumped, twice. I left the onions and butter, and brought David into the living room. Now, before I explain what I did, I want to point out that at this moment, I realized that instead of telling him no, I could have told him to take the napkins to the carpeted living room and eliminated the problem. By making choices like this, I’m reducing the number of confrontations to a more manageable number (for me and him).
But I did not make that choice. It didn’t occur to me until after he had disobeyed. Instead, I asked him if he disobeyed, and he responded no, he wasn’t jumping. He was just playing a game, he said. Given his personality and the lack of guile when confronted, I believed him. I’m trying to help him understand that the spirit of my command is just as important as my specific words, so I explained that he still disobeyed because mommy did not want jumping on or over the napkins, for whatever reason. But I didn’t spank him. I told him he could not play with the napkins. That was a brutal consequence; a spanking would have been preferable. I considered that sometimes we fail to weigh our children’s personality and the situation when deciding on an appropriate consequence. In this case, I think the natural consequence was a better choice.