Love sometimes disciplines but never too harshly

by Craig on December 10, 2010

I think that most of you who read these words are parents. You have experience that I can’t even approach. I think any parent who loves, and intentionally seeks to truly raise a child well, is brave and noble.

I have run a group home for children in the past. But they weren’t my children. I have never had child. I taught 1st and 2nd grades – so I understand kids  – and think they’re gifts. But my students weren’t mine either. I have a sister whom I love beyond words, and when my mother left this earth she gave her to me as a gift. She is as close to a daughter as I have ever had.

One thing I have never had much of a clue on is how to discipline toddlers.

But I kind of have one of my own.

I have Laska the love kitty, and he did:

this

and this

and of course, this

There was initial anger every time. But really, what could I do? Could I teach him life lessons? Could I send him to time out? Could I take away his Wii privileges?

So he knocks things over, and toilet paper brings him great joy, but he’s a cat. And as I write this to you, I hear a crash – and a blaze of gray and black scatters across the room. Oooof – I can’t look. But no matter what just happened, my disciplinary choices are limited to a spritz of water, a firm no, or stern glance.

On a different note. I was at the grocery store. Ahead of me was a woman juggling three children under the age of five.  For the next three aisles I witnessed amazing love.

I heard firm “no’s”. I heard her scold, calmly, as a toddler reached for a glass jar. She said, “That’s not a toy.”  Then she reached into her bag, like she was prepared in advance for something like this, and pulled out a toy saying, “Here is something you can play with.” There was joy unbounded – and a toddler disciplined in love.

Amazing

And the thing was, while she was doing that she was shopping, handing out snacks, taking a phone call, adjusting clothing, tying shoes, and more. I know, for you moms, this is everyday stuff. But I have never really appreciated mom-ness like I have in these last few months…

…and it floors me every time.

Next aisle over,  a territorial dispute arose. There was a quick arm inserted between the warring factions. To the older one she said, “We do not push. Use words. I’ve told you this before – and be kind.” As she said this, she had her hand on the smaller child, and without looking, comforted him perfectly.

Really now, how is this possible?

There was more, but you get the point. I know you do.

I think of Laska the love kitty, and this display of loving discipline, and how I have required discipline from a Heavenly Parent. God’s discipline with me has run the gamut from a gentle nudge to life changing events. But always exactly what was needed – even if my response was not.

And I thought…

Love sometimes disciplines but never too harshly.


Now sometimes, harshly is needed. I get that. I’ve received it from above myself, so I know it’s correct when its called for. But I also know how Our Lord has tried patiently to grab my attention with his staff and rod, before breaking out the big lumber.

I tell you this; I stand in awe of moms with a plan.

I stand in awe of a Heavenly Father with a plan.

I’m in awe of anyone who has to discipline and chooses to do so firmly, but not too harshly. Because that’s what love does.

I’m babysitting my nieces today. I think I’ll read this to them at the start of the sitting. I wonder what they’ll say. Let me know if you’d like me to share.

In God’s love

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie December 10, 2010 at 1:17 am

How old are your nieces? Please share, please do! :) I wish I was more like that mom you saw. I look back and see all the times I was not. But He is gracious and gives me more chances to get this right. Thanks Craig! :)

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Anonymuss December 10, 2010 at 2:24 am

“…before breaking out the big lumber”. that made me laugh! Heart your humor, Craig! That seriously wanked-on roll of toilet paper is so amusing, too! kitties have no idea…:)

on the serious side, yes, absolutely share! i am glad you have written this today. it is such a good reminder (a gentle and gracious preemptive nudge) to treat all people this way. it gets back to treating others (especially in discipline) the way we would want to be treated.

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bill (cycleguy) December 10, 2010 at 4:48 am

I would be interested to hear what your nieces have to say but I suspect they will look at you when it is over and say, “Whatever. Uncle Craig, can we go get ice cream?” I think they will relish the time spent with someone who loves them. And you can spoil them (because that is what Uncle Craigs can do) and then give them back to their mom. :) Hey, it works as a grandfather. LOL. Meanwhile, since I am not a “cat person” …nah, never mind. 😛

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Craig December 10, 2010 at 8:41 am

Deb, no mom is perfect. Take a snapshot and everyone is either angel or devil. You were a mom – imperfect or no – you did more than me! And until we breathe our last breath there is more time on this earth to “get this right” – then there’s forever.

Merry Christmas Deb

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Craig December 10, 2010 at 8:51 am

and Deb – they are 6 and 8 – or 7 and 9 – I forget :)

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Craig December 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I have just been informed by my nieces, as they are slapping me repeatedly in the face – that they are 8 and 10 – actually 8!/2 and 10 1/2 – just sayin’

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Craig December 10, 2010 at 8:45 am

The golden rule A – I agree.

And the toilet paper? Some toilet paper company just did commercials with a poll on on whether the roll goes over the top or underneath. Over the top won. Anyone with a kitten will tell you underneath is the only way. Otherwise the kitten uses it like a hamster wheel and unrolls it all and has a party.

God Bless A.

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Craig December 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

Bill – you must have nieces (or kids) – I suspect the same thing. One of the two is more apt to go along with something like this – especially if I record her answers – both are more apt to do it if I say I’m going to write about it. We’ll know by the end of the evening.

And the spoiling? They say they get confused because I am so much like a kid (i.e. my humor – and being fun – and playing with them) but so STRICT – with my rules. But secretly they like the order of the few rules – just rarely at the moment they break them. They’re good kids though. Love ’em.

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Adrienne December 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

This post it beatiful. I wonder what God thinks when he’s watching me at the grocery store? Sometimes he’s probably like it if I handled things more lovingly. What a perfect reminder.
PS. I couldn’t help but giggle at the thought of using a spray bottle on my kids! LOL Of course, I would never, but I couldn’t help the analogy you provided. Hee hee!

If you have time, I posted part 2 http://bit.ly/hcGvku

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Craig December 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Spray bottles work better with cats anyway Adrienne. Kids would actually like it I bet. I’m sure the mom at the store is not always this perfect – but she sure was on this day – during these moment. But as I said, I am filled to the brim with admiration for moms who try to do it right.

Thank you for coming by.

God Bless

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Katina December 11, 2010 at 10:27 am

Craig, what a wonderful post! Thanks for visiting Peaceful Divas the other day also! Wow, I like Adrienne, wonder what God says when he sees me interact with my children! Hmmm nice reminder! I agree, with some of the folks that said you should just spoil your nieces–Uncle Craigs /Grandparents are great for spoiling–it is what you HAVE to do! Have an awesome weekend!

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Craig December 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Hi Katina,

Like I said to Adrienne, I seriously doubt that the mom in the store is always that picture perfect. And the evening with the nieces was spent caroling, playing apples to apples, watching Disney Channel and Nickelodian, and even nails and make up – I politely declined the make up session. Also Spaghetti and Froot Loops (not together), the question game (which is just a conversation but everything has to be in the form of a question) – hours of laughing. They were spoiled.

God Bless and thank you.

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Sandra December 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

well that lady in the store certainly sounds more tolerant and prepared than I have ever been! She sounds terrific!
As for you, I love this post, I love your tone, and most of all, I love your kitty! He sounds fantastic, tearing around, reaking havoc while you try to write with peace, love, and joy! Go Laska!

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Craig December 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Sandra, I couldn’t be certain, but there may have been a halo above her head.

And thank you for the kind words. As I write Laska is playing a game of “rip apart the window sheers” – take the toy, place it behind the curtains, walk away nonchalantly – then ATTACK – if the sheers fight back – a brief skirmish ensues – the cat wins.

Thank you very much for reading.

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Amanda {Enchanting Havoc} December 12, 2010 at 1:56 am

Discipline is by far one of the hardest most important things there is as a parent. Along with discipline, it’s extremely important to have patience to go along with it…. and that is SO difficult!! I admire the woman that you saw at the store. I strive to be like that.

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Craig December 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

Amanda, I think that’s what love, and the Christian life, is all about. It’s impossible to love perfectly. It’s impossible to love perfectly. It’s the striving that counts. It’s the intention not the perfection. That comes later. I’ve read your stuff. I know what you intend. I think God smiles. God bless you and yours, and thank you lots for coming by.

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