Love, consequences, discipline, behavior management, shame – all are options when we deal with misbehavior. How do we separate the truth from the lies?
- Protective love is not rescuing from consequences; protective love is offering grace in the place of shame when our children don’t get everything right.
- Consequences are not a way of earning a way back to relationship; that is shame.
- Children grow stronger because we deal together with the weight of truth, not because we avoid it.
The first post in this series offered the truth about punishment; it doesn’t work. (part 1)
Without punishment as an option, what choices do we have? More important, what’s our best choice? The second post in this series introduced the idea of “permission”. (part 2)
This “permission” post concluded with seeds of these ideas:
- Real love offers me security, acceptance, attention, trust, and significance. Real love offers me direction and protection. (TrueFace.org)
- Loving direction and protection are always more effective than punishment. Your wisdom and strength – and my permission and willingness to receive and respond to it in trust.
“Will you give me permission to help you?” is one of the most powerful questions a parent can ask a child. It’s the same question God asks us; permission is His idea.
So what about consequences? What does protective love say about consequences?
Let’s begin with this truth: “Love is a process of meeting needs.” (TrueFace.org)
Children need discipline. Discipline is instructive, not punitive. Discipline is about the child’s true identity, not about the child’s behavior.
Discipline is always for the benefit of the child – not the parent.
Without this kind of love, our children will not learn and they will not mature.
Consequences are a part of the very real truth about the way the world works; loving protection never protects us from the power of the truth.
Grace is always a safe place and never a soft place.
Grace says, “I love you unconditionally AND I won’t change the truth for you.” Maybe this makes more sense: “I won’t change the truth for you, AND I won’t abandon you while you wrestle with it.”
We know these truths:
- The punishment for our sins (past, present, and future) was taken care of by Jesus on the cross.
- “In grace we never declare that our sin doesn’t hurt us, or that we are immune from the consequences or affects of sin.” (TrueFace.org)
Consequences are the realities of life – they are not manipulative attempts to control our behavior.
Our children will smell our true motive; they’ll know if life is offering real consequences or if we’re imposing punishment.
Living in this fallen world, we daily stumble and sin. We experience guilt from our own sin and hurt when others sin against us. Our children need to know what to do with this guilt and hurt – and the shame that comes with both.
When we think we are punished for our sins, we hide. We run away from God – and others. We don’t ask for directions or help; we’re afraid of correction, rejection, and more shame.
If we punish our children for their behavior, they will hide from us – because of their shame, and to avoid punishment. Away from us, they will be weak and vulnerable to more sin, and more lies – about God, themselves, and others.
They will not allow us to help them, direct them, correct them, or protect them from the lies that are aimed straight at their weaknesses. They will not allow us to love them well.
Shame is the thought that “there is something uniquely wrong with me” and it will keep our children at a distance from us when they are in the midst of a crisis. Problems get worse instead of better.
When we believe the truth that our sins bring consequences, and that grace is the resolver of our guilt and hurt – we run to get help – not away from it.
Only grace is the resolver of our shame. This is experienced when we, the parents, stay with our children in the midst of the consequences.
Consequences are not a way of earning a way back to relationship; that is the manifestation of shame.
Staying close, we give God and others permission to protect us in our weakness.
When we stand with our children, we get the chance to teach them that grace, expressing itself in love, is stronger than shame. Only love can meet these real and deep needs.
And with our arms around them, looking truthfully with them at their behavior choices and consequences, we have hope that they will trust us – and let us love them and help them grow up.
When we unconditionally accept our children, and stay with them and for them, they learn how love can not only resolve conflicts, but also brings hope for restoring relationships.
We grow stronger because we deal together in relationship with the weight of truth, not because we avoid it.
Our children heal and mature as they wrestle with the truth and engage fully with the consequences of their behavior – with the love (not the shame and condemnation) of their parents. Without this struggle, there is no maturing.
Protective love is not rescuing from consequences; protective love is offering grace in the place of shame when our children don’t get everything right.
Because of grace, my guilt can be resolved – and so can my hurt. This resolution was never possible before the love of Christ expressing itself in grace.
There were no “tools” in my old nature to deal with my sin; there were no “tools” in my old nature to deal with the hurt of your sin. There is not enough hiding or performing to deal with my shame.
Grace gives us a new way of seeing ourselves when we do sin; it also give us a new way of seeing each other. And it actually protects us vitally from future sinning.
Please join the discussion about this post; I can learn from your questions and considerations. Others need your thoughts and stories, too. Thank you.