• Dana L. Butler

Regarding disciplining before we get angry…

My nearly-2-year-old son is standing up on the kitchen chairs….. AGAIN.  (This, after having fallen several times before…him fully knowing the risk he’s taking.)

“Buddy…. sit down right now.”

(Tick, tick….seconds pass.)

In a firmer voice:  “Isaac, I want you to sit down right now.  Buddy, look at Mommy.  SIT.  DOWN.”

(Tick, tick, tick….He’s staring at me, waiting to see how I’ll react to his disobedience.)

“Isaac, you need to sit down.  If you choose not to obey, you will get a spanking.”

Plop.  He finally sits down.  I thank him (in a frustrated voice) for obeying Mommy.

And internally, I’m kicking myself because I just missed an opportunity to bring quick correction to his behavior and to shepherd his heart with excellence (and to show him that I really do mean what I say the first time that I say it.).


I struggle to discipline my son consistently.  I could have a really good day hour…. and then end up distracted and “off my game” for the next hour…. or 2…. or 24.  And I admit it:  Disciplining consistently is not convenient.  There are days when I am just lazy and don’t feel like stopping what I’m doing to correct my son in a Biblical way, to really shepherd his heart well.

Anyone else out there struggle like this?

Another confession:

Even though we fostered 2 children before our son was born, this is really our first experience of parenting in a context that allows us to discipline as we believe is Biblical.  Though I’m nearly 32 and my husband is 34, I am not a mom of 7 (yet 😉 ) with years and years of experience training and instructing my children in the Lord.  (But I long to be in that position in the next decade or so at some point.)

Confession number 3: (I promise I’ll try to stop confessing soon. 🙂

I had a zillion very strong opinions about parenting…before I was a parent. 🙂 And actually, being a parent now (and no longer having the state in our home telling us how we can and can’t correct our children), I still have very strong opinions about parenting (now mixed with a lot more grace for others who are parents)….BUT… it really is a whole ‘nother ballgame trying to figure out how to discern your toddler’s heart and actually implement my strong opinions. 🙂

Stan and I have struggled and wrestled over issues around disciplining Isaac:  Was he intentionally disobeying?  Was he being defiant or just childish?  How do we correct his behavior and shepherd his heart simultaneously?  To many of these questions we’re still in the process of figuring out answers….though the answers are coming more easily the older and more communicative Isaac gets.

But today I wanted to just share 1 thing that I feel like the Lord has taught me and reminded me of over and over again in my parenting and discipline of my sweet boy:  

How consistently disciplining before I get frustrated paves the way for continued open-heartedness between my son and I.

In the scenario I outlined above, by the time Isaac actually obeyed me, I was frustrated with him…which does NOT exactly contribute toward open-heartedness between the two of us.  It does not lend itself toward me expressing delight in or enjoyment of him… or, obviously, to him feeling those things from me.  This sense of enjoyment of him, and him picking up on that enjoyment, is absolutely crucial in our days together if we’re going to have a healthy relationship, and if Isaac is going to be able to receive correction from me without it wounding his heart.

Now, obviously in moments when I am frustrated or even angry with him, those emotions do not have to determine how I interact with my son.  I (ideally) am not ruled by my emotions.  However….. genuinely enjoying my kiddo makes parenting a LOT more fun for me.  (And it makes BEING parented a lot more fun for him! 🙂 )

Know someone who'd appreciate this?

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