Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence… For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:9, 10)
This scripture prompted the question worth asking- what’s the motivation behind your way of disciplining your children, dad?
This verse indicates that fathers (whether individually or the collective fathers of the nation) disciplined according to their own desires, or to meet their own ends. Either of the two discipline extremes seems rooted in self-profit:
Quick, harsh, angry punishment due to anger, embarrassment, or outside perceptions…
Inattentive, hands-off, coldness because one is physically absent or simply can’t be bothered…
Both present personal concerns or attitudes that are outside of the best interest of any child, provoking negative behavior and making discipline highly ineffective.
So the answer that is demanded should be: the child’s best interest. So what dictates that?
Don’t seek to provoke your child.
Make use of every opportunity to nurture and admonish.
Constantly train your child.
Any one of us may possibly fall into the self-interest trap- in fact I believe we all do from time to time. The key is to recognize when we are acting on our impulses or in response to a real concern like a safety issue, rules infraction, or moral concern.
So here are a few questions to think about when evaluating your discipline:
Was my discipline an act of correction for my child or a reaction based on my perception of what he did? What was at risk due to the child’s behavior that I felt required discipline? Who really received the benefit of my acting to discipline- the child or me? Was I too harsh in my discipline compared to the child’s infraction? Does the child understand why he was disciplined (would require knowing expectations or having set rules)? If my child behaved that way again, would I do the same thing over again in response?
I’d love to get your additions to this list and your feedback on the subject! But to conclude, I want to go back and include a portion of scripture I left out in the beginning:
We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us… shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)
I’m thankful to have a Father that always acts in my best interest!