Is #makebetterchoices just for kids? Or parents too?

A couple months ago, I saw a slightly horrifying display of discipline that everyone thought was hilarious. To be honest, I had to giggle myself at the antics of the dad in question, as he was busting a move in crazy videos that he posted on his daughter’s social media in order to punish her for sneaking in boys to a slumber party. Yes, it was clever. Yes, some of the hashtags were truly hysterical. But I couldn’t help but think… was it effective? Was this dad’s sole goal to embarrass his child into obedience in order to have her #makebetterchoices? Making better choices is a great thing to teach our children, but how does embarrassing your child by taking over her social media and being a goofball accomplish this?

When our children make bad decisions, what is a parent to do? Obviously, some kind of punishment is in order. The kind of punishment is always something that is up for debate. Especially in our society. Should we ground our children? Should we take something important away from them? Should we have them write endless lines? We can get a whole lot of opinions on this one, but I keep going back to what I’ve already mentioned – what is most effective? Do we want children that say sorry just because they don’t want or like the punishment? That’s what many, many parents tend to gravitate to, including me! Make the punishment so severe they’ll never do said infraction again.

This works great for behavior modification and/or when kids are really young, in which case you don’t have any other viable option (ever try to reason with a two-year-old?). But the problem is this doesn’t even touch the heart. And by “heart”, I don’t mean it in a nebulous, cherubim kind of way. What I mean by heart is ultimately our children’s character. What are they going to do when no one is looking? Are they going to confess what they’ve done because they have to or because they want to and know they need to?

When we punish our children with no obvious connection back to the reason why they got into trouble in the first place (i.e. the punishment is meant to be uncomfortable, but no lesson/discipline is reinforced), they may obey and submit on the outside, but be rebelling mightily on the inside. The idea is similar to: “I’m sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!” Punishing our children by embarrassing them or shaming them would definitely fall into this particular category of punishing for the sake of punishing, rather than punishing for the sake of correcting. It may seem like semantics, but there’s a world of difference.

God’s Word clearly commands us to correct our children, not to solely punish them, but to discipline and correct them. Prov. 13:24 says, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” And the word “discipline” in Hebrew means, “to chasten or correct.” If all we want to do is embarrass our children so that they “make better choices,” they may not continue in the same outward behavior, but their hearts will just figure out another way to do what they want to do. We want to address the “heart” issues for our kids, not just their outward behaviors, which is the fruit of what lies in their hearts.

And how exactly do we correct? That’s what makes parenting so fun! Ha! It’s definitely not a one size fits all solution. Every child is different and every situation bears all these nuances that we need to consider. What works for one child, one day, won’t necessarily be appropriate the next day. But what should always be consistently used in any kind of correction is the Word of God. According to 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” And here, “man” in Hebrew means, “human being.” Most days, our children would be considered as such. Ahem.

The reason I wrote this post was to point out that although some things we see on the internet are funny or entertaining, when we think them through a little, we can easily see the cracks on the surface. I don’t want my child to resent me for embarrassing them. On the off chance that something we do may go viral and we could all laugh about it as in the case of the above family, it’s still not worth it. Five seconds of fame doesn’t make up for an opportunity to impart true wisdom, grace, and correction where it is desperately needed. Our kids will all screw up, possibly in big ways and definitely in small ways and yes, they will need to #makebetterchoices, but I want to be the parent who will consistently point my children back to Jesus, in love, grace, and truth while I’m correcting them. I want to be the one to #makebetterchoices too. There are many ways to correct and again, taking away something they love is an appropriate way to start. It just needs to be more than that if we want to truly reach our kids’ hearts for Jesus. Walk boldly in God’s truth with this parenting gig, my friends. It’s worth it. And believe me, I’m preaching to myself here too.

©2024 Mud Hen Mama


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