Don’t become the “Consequence”

License and Registration, PleaseRecently I was pulled over by a Florida State Trooper for speeding.  He walked up to my car, and politely, but firmly asked, “Can I see your driver’s license and registration?” Then he excused himself and went back to his car.  (Who knows what they do back there.)  After a few minutes the officer came back, returned my license and registration, and informed me about the law I had violated.  Then he proceeded to give me the consequence for my behavior, a one-hundred-twenty-five dollar consequence.

Here’s the interesting thing, he didn’t give me a lecture.  He didn’t give me an attitude.  He’s the highway parent and he didn’t even yell at me. He just gave me the consequence.  After which he backed away from the car, looked at me smiling and re-affirmed our cordial relationship by saying, “Have a nice day.”

When I broke the highway rule and drove too fast, the highway parent didn’t run up to the car yelling a screaming, grab me by the shoulders and yank me through the window saying, “You should know better than this!”  He was just the opposite, actually pleasant but firm.

We can learn from him.  He didn’t become part of the consequence.  When a parent starts yelling at a child for unacceptable behavior the parent becomes the consequence.  This makes a child feel as if you are withdrawing your love as one of the consequences for their unacceptable behavior. This is far too severe and far from the goal of parenting.

The goal of discipline is to correct the behavior without making the child feel like they have lost the parents love.  The initial impetus for a child to work on correcting their own behavior is the parent’s love.  If he feels like he’s lost that motivator, why try.

Love the child and discipline the behavior.  Make sure the child learns that there is nothing he can ever do to lose your love.  That is a great lesson to help them grasp that there is nothing we can ever do to lose the love of God.  He loves us with an everlasting love, even when I exceed speed limits …or worse. (Joshua 1:5).

Tomorrow: Why do some parents we know yell?