What are you going to do about it?

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

Being a parent is not a boring task.  There are enough joys, sorrows, challenges, and decisions to keep mom and dad on their toes for years on end.  There are days that our feelings of pride for our children could fill a U-haul truck.  And there are also other kinds of days.

One of my friends posted on Facebook not long ago, “Anyone want a couple of kids?”  I knew she was joking, and I assumed it was a day she had run out of energy and tolerance long before the kids had run out of things to do and messes to make.  And with every stage in our children’s lives, the methods of discipline must be changed to suit their age level.

Discipline is not an easy task.  In the early stages of life I learned that every time I got a spanking, it hurt my mom or dad more than it hurt me.  I only responded to that confession once: “Then let’s skip it.  Neither of us likes getting hurt!”  Then there were those times my mom told me to “just wait until your father gets home.”  I kept this one to myself, but I thought, “Oh no, is he going to get a spanking, too?”

Next, there is the grounding stage, when once again the parent seems to suffer more than the child.  If Larry has to stay home all weekend except for going to church, guess who else has to do the same thing!  Maybe that is when mom should have confessed that it was going to hurt her more than it would me.

Well, whatever the methods of discipline used in a home, I feel certain that they will not be effective if not supported with love.  A friend of mine heard that his son had been in trouble at school.  He spoke about it with his wife and she inquired, “What are you going to do about it?”  His admitted cowardly response was, “Me?  What are you going to do about it?”  Neither of them really enjoyed the task of confrontation.

They decided to give it some time, to see if their son would fess up (and he eventually did).  Meanwhile, his wife asked him, “What are you going to do if it is not true?”  His response was, “I’m going to enter his bedroom where he is asleep, gently rub his back, lean down to kiss him on the head, and whisper in his ear that I love him.”

Then she said, “What are you going to do if it is true?”  His response was, “I’m going to enter his bedroom where he is asleep, gently rub his back, lean down to kiss him on the head, and whisper in his ear that I love him.”

If I err as a parent to one side or the other, I’d rather demonstrate too much love than too little.  I never once enjoyed the task of punishing my children for their disobedience, but I cherished the moments just before or just after the punishment was enforced, when I held them in my arms with a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek with words of assurance that I love them.  I truly believe that the love is what made the discipline so effective.

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