Life Hack #13:
Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them. A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death. (Proverbs 23:13-14)
Children need correction in their formative years, and this is probably one of the hottest debated topics among parents today. There is a principle being taught in the scripture which goes beyond the "means" or "method" of discipline used to correct the child to the "heart" behind all discipline rendered by a parent. Discipline is for the correction of behavior which will lead the child into harmful stuff if ignored - and when rendered with the heart and compassion of a loving parent, it should always be within the boundaries of what does not bring more "harm" to the child.
God's lessons are sometimes hard for me to learn, I don't know about you. When I am not getting them, he sometimes has to resort to what brings me to a place of paying attention. A parent's discipline should only be as "significant" as will bring the child to the place they are paying close attention to what is said, embracing the correction required in their behavior. There are many forms of discipline - verbal (correction with words alone); separation (time outs); withholding a privilege (taking away something the child enjoys); and even spanking (the most controversial of all). All discipline is for the intention of "correction" - even when it is a gentle guidance with words or a moment to just stop to think about one's behavior.
God does this all the time with us - gently dropping in a word of warning, or perhaps giving us the sense we are not on the right track and then asking us to stop long enough to get our bearings again. The intent in this scripture is not to "sanction" the use of a "method" of discipline as much as it is the heart of the parent to not be "soft" on a child's rebellion. A parent needs to take an active role in correcting behavior which will afford the child opportunities for more harm if left "unchecked". Proverbs 29:15 says: The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (ESV)
The goal of any discipline is to bring learning - the cessation of the wrong behavior, coupled with the opportunity to embrace the right one, and hopefully the change in the child's "will" that leads to the child doing the right thing in the future. Discipline seems very unpleasant while we are going through it, but in the end, if we are "trained" by it, we will reap pleasant things in our lives.
There are boundaries we should all consider prior to any discipline - for ALL discipline should be done within these boundaries. What are they? Be sure the "punishment" fits the wrongdoing. If you always resort to using one method of discipline, it is possible the overuse of that method may not result in behavior change. God uses different methods with us, based on the specific change he is requiring.
All discipline must be tempered in love - respecting the gifts of life and relationship we are entrusted with. It is not rendered in anger, or in a manner which frustrates and drives us further away or into our own rage. In taking discipline seriously, correcting your own behavior first so you are ready to correct the behavior of your child second, you are assuming your responsibility well. Discipline is always a balance between love and control - you must always discipline in love, remaining in full control of your emotions first, and seeking to connect the desired behavior with what it is you are correcting. This is how God does it and we should follow his example. Just sayin!