I couldn’t believe it. Usually my four year old daughter, Charis, was compliant and obedient. But here she was refusing to apologize for something mean she did to an adult friend of ours. “Charis, if you don’t apologize I’m going to have to spank you.”
That usually worked, especially for something as simple as asking for an “I’m sorry”.
But not this time. She silently stood her ground.
I had promised her a spanking and as much as I hated to have to keep my word I knew it was important I do so. I gave her a few gentle swats of the bottom.
She gave a few obligatory whimpers – since these were far too gentle to really hurt.
But she continued to stand her ground – absolutely refusing to apologize.
“Charis, if you don’t apologize, I’m going to have to spank you again. And this time it’s going to be real hard. I don’t want to do that and you don’t want that so you need to go and apologize for being mean.”
She remained unmoved.
Again, I had to keep my word – so I gave a few hard swats on her bottom that would certainly get her attention. This time there were real tears but no change. She absolutely refused to even make a half-hearted attempt at an apology.
This was the first time with Charis that Jana and I had seen open rebellion raise its ugly head. We needed to win this confrontation but at what cost? A hundred thoughts and questions were rushing through me head.
She was just a little girl. I didn’t want to spank her – especially since it seemed so ineffective. If this kept up, at what point would my “discipline” turn into abuse? But I felt like we couldn’t afford to lose this battle. She was openly defiant and when rebellion wins a battle of the wills it’s strengthened, more resilient and more determined to win future conflicts.
I didn’t know what to do but I was committed to principles I had seen in Scripture. Spanking is a God-endorsed form of discipline, especially for cases of rebellion.
Spanking, is something we do for our children not to our children. It’s an act of sacrificial love – I force myself to do what is best for my child even though I don’t want to do it.
Spanking is God’s answer to keeping our children from being enslaved to the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts.
Rebellion is no trivial matter – even in the heart of a four year old. I had no choice but to follow the principles and leave the outcome to the Lord. But first, one last appeal.
Outside I calmly said, “Charis, if you do not apologize I am going to have to spank you again really, really hard.” Inside my heart was screaming, “Please apologize – at least make an effort – so I don’t have to do this!”
As I spanked her a third time I felt like an abusive dad. Was this over the top? Would she have bruises? What am I going to do if she still refuses to obey? After several painful swats I stood her up and asked her again to go and apologize.
With hot tears streaming down her cheeks she walked over to our friend and softly said, “I’m sorry”. What happened next totally shocked me.
She bolted back toward me, jumped up in my lap, threw her arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. I was amazed. It really worked.
I believed Biblically that children somehow knew discipline was a sign of love but here I was seeing it in action. Instead of running to her mom for comfort like she usually did, she ran back into the very arms that had just spanked her so hard. We embraced, now with tears running down both our cheeks. And I assured her of my love for her.
But what do you do if even spanking doesn’t work? I prepared a little ePaper with some ideas that I’m going to send as a “thanks” to all subscribers to this blog. Sign up – middle right hand column of this website – and I’ll send it to you, too.
Parenting can be tough. But you have to decide at which end you want it to be tough. You can make it ‘easy’ on yourself when they’re young, ignore their misbehavior and refuse to deal with it. By doing that you put off the pain until they’re older when you’ll be forced to suffer the consequences of rebellious teens and young adults.
Or you can choose the hard way now and enjoy life with your teens and adult children. Often what appears to be the easy way now turns out to be the hard way in the long run.
Don’t fail to discipline your children. They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death. – Proverbs 23:13, 14 (NLT)