Discipline is always a hard topic. Everyone does it differently, and everyone has an opinion.
As for me, I do have some opinions. But I also have a lot of questions.
What things should I be tough about? What things am I being TOO tough about?
Am I saying “no” way too much?
What kind of consequences do I give?
How do I help my sons realize that I give consequences out of love and not anger, or apathy towards them?
How do I NOT give consequences out of anger?
Through all this, in my “expert” 4+ years of parenting (just kidding), I’ve messed up countless times. I’ve yelled when I should have spoken softly. I have jumped to conclusions and consequences too soon. I wait too long to give a consequence, and by then, my patience is gone.
The worst is this: sometimes I unintentionally make my son think that it’s who he is that’s wrong or bad. Not what he’s done.
My husband was the one who opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing.
It was after I completely lost it on him.
He was giving advice to help with some things I was working through. As much as I tried to politely disagree with him, I finally hit a boiling point. I started yelling.
“I have to do things this way! You don’t understand! I have to figure this out MY way! Stop trying to make me do this differently!”
There was silence for a moment or two afterward. He knows me well enough to know that I was feeling guilty for yelling already.
Instead of correcting me, arguing back, or leaving the room, he simply told me something amazing: that nothing I could do would scare him away. He loves me, no matter what.
It had a profound impact on me.
Because isn’t this exactly how God responds to us? No matter how big we mess up. No matter how we act toward him.
In Romans 8:38-39, Paul declares, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I’ve spent far too much of my life believing that when I messed up, God still loved me, but just a little less. I picture him accepting me back, but with a wariness, a shaking of the head, a sigh. What I did felt like enough to affect how he saw me, who I was before Him.
But that’s not what the Bible says. It says nothing separates us from His love. Not angels nor demons, which are definitely more powerful than me. Not any depth I could fall to. Not anything in creation—which includes my own self.
Nothing we can do can scare him away. He loves us no matter what.
These words have changed how I discipline.
They are a reminder to my son that no matter what mood he’s in—angry, sad, frustrated, happy, over-enthusiastic to a fault—I love him. No matter what choices he’s made—good or bad—I love him.
And for that matter, no matter what mood I’m in. No matter how exasperated, impatient, sad, or glad I am. No matter if I yell or speak or throw something or give myself a time out. I love him.
It doesn’t mean anything goes.
It doesn’t mean actions don’t have consequences. I’m determined through discipline that I’m teaching my kids to obey now, so they don’t deal with bigger and more disastrous consequences as adults.
But it’s just that any consequences are meant to be for his actions. Not who he is.
Do I have all the answers to my discipline questions? No. I’m working on it.
Do I discipline perfectly? No. I still make mistakes.
However, this perspective is truly changing how it looks in our house. Even though imperfect, it points us back to the perfect example—God, in His infinite, unconditional love for us.
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