In the middle of the grocery store, I stood, faced with a choice every mother has to make. No, it wasn't the choice between low fat and regular ice cream. It was a decision far more weightier, and one I had to make in an instant.
While my daughters sat in the shopping cart, I thought about the possible consequences. I knew I would have to be bold. I'd also have to be brave because after I made the decision, there was a good possibility I might become “that” mother.
So, as I stood next to the shopping cart, with my four-year-old misbehaving, I decided to take the plunge. I gave her an ultimatum. If she pushed her sister again, she would have to get out of the shopping cart. She was familiar with these types of ultimatums because it is how my husband and I discipline at home. Unfortunately, for some reason only a child could explain, going out in public seems to entitle children to a certain level of freedom. It's as if they know we don't want to create a scene. They are also smart enough to recognize there's a slim possibility we might not follow through on discipline.
Yes, I'd say children are right about something. Parents definitely don't want to create a scene in a public place. We don't like to be watched, and we certainly don't appreciate the judgment strangers pass on us without knowing the entire story.
Like I said earlier, despite the possible consequences of enforcing discipline, I decided to take the plunge. And guess what? My daughter, as many children do, ignored the ultimatum and pushed her sister one last time. “That's it,” I said, “You have to get out of the cart. You will have to walk next to me.”
Now, we all hope that disciplining our children would lead to a sorrowful state of repentance, but it certainly doesn't in the moment. It definitely didn't for my daughter. Instead, for the remainder of the shopping trip, she dragged herself beside me, crying and begging to be placed back into the cart. Did I give in? I'm sure the strangers around me would've hoped so, but I didn't.
Later at home, my daughter and I spoke about the trip, and she was genuinely repentant. She also learned something that day: Mommy will follow through with discipline no matter where we are.
What is more, my prayer is that my daughter would realize disciplining her is motivated out of my love for her. God entrusts her precious life into my hands, and I only have a limited amount of years to impact her in a big way. If I want to love her well, I will have to learn how to discipline her well, (Proverbs 13:24).
What would you do if you were put in my position? Did you realize disciplining your child is a form of love? Now, I'm not talking about the “yelling, frazzled Mommy” kind of discipline. (Haven't we all been there?) I'm talking about the intentional, consistent, patient, and calm way of disciplining. I believe it's an area we can all grow in.
This week, as we continue our study on love, we will focus on how to love our children well. Please join us, even if you haven't studied along in the past two weeks. Please click here for the reading guide. Let's begin by reading Monday's verse.
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Proverbs 13:24, NIV
As you read the verse, consider the answer to these questions:
How can you love your child well?
This verse says “careful to discipline”. How might you need to be careful in disciplining your child?
Photo: Clem Onojeghuo