Parents: when you correct your children, correct with content, not with tone. People who hear your tone and not your content should not be able to detect that you are upset. If they do, you are not correcting properly. Using tone, like extra volume or a strident quality is an attempt to change through means other than content. God does not do this.
When we correct with volume or quality of voice, It brings shame through our contorted voice. We don’t talk with friends that way. We are beating them up with our voice. When our kids get to us, we need to back off. Otherwise, we will be building resentment without knowing it. If they come back at us with the tone we give to them, they are echoing our bad behavior, and it easily escalates. What we wanted was a momentary correction and we got an argument, and our tone was to blame. We need the correction more than the kids.
Paul told Timothy to be gentle with those who opposed him. He was not to come with dominating voice as if to say, “I am in charge.” He was to come in a voice of meekness to match the character of Christ. We know whether we have learned the gentleness of Christ when it is time to correct our children for misbehavior that annoys us. If our demeanor changes, we are sacrificing content, and it will not get the same effect. Disciplining in love is purposeful, not punitive (that is, to punish rather than correct). We should be attempting to correct the behavior rather than shaming the child and beating him down with our yelling.
God’s still small voice says, “I love you” and “that was wrong” with the same volume and intensity of love. It makes us want to change and be like Him. He corrected us not out of annoyance but out of the desire that we take on His qualities of love, gentleness, and righteousness. Sometimes the correction of a parent comes because a child is interrupting them from their cooking or TV watching or book reading. The tone says, “I am upset. You are to blame for making me upset. If it wasn’t for you, I could keep doing what I am doing, but now I have to put my good book down and come over and break up a fight. See what you have done. How unkind!” We have just quit serving our child by giving him the needed discipline. We are serving ourselves by telling him to quiet down. Our actions are betraying our intentions, inappropriately applied because we were inconvenienced.
Discipline is done for a child, not to a child. (I think I heard that first from Larry Christenson). We are training them. It is our gift to them to help them grow up. Children are immature, and we are God’s instruments to bring them to maturity, not show them how immature we are by our raised volume and unkind words. Children who grow up thinking they are an inconvenience will resent us and what we stand for. They will take opposite beliefs to spite us.
If your child instinctively hugs you after a spanking, you were doing it right. You are helping him want to obey. He is repentant and tender. It did not bring shame or anger; it brought affection. (A blog about spanking coming).