False Assumption 10: If it Works it Must be Right

by | False Assumptions Series

If my disciplinary approach works in getting the desired response I want from my kids, then it must be the right approach and ok to use.

On a related topic to this false assumption, you might want to read my Authority-based Parenting Series, as well as my Discipline-based Parenting Series.

Parenting by this false assumption can lead to “winning the battle, but losing the war” with our kids.  In considering this, would you first take a minute to review the distinctions between their will and their spirit? An explanation of the differences can be found above in False Assumption #1.  It is important to understand the differences between the two and to remind ourselves from time to time just how important it is to encourage their spirit, while teaching them to bridle and control their will.

Simply using any method of correction we might choose may indeed bring about immediate behavior improvement, but at the same time stifle their spirit and light a fire under their strong and potentially destructive will.

Someone recently commented to me that their child was well behaved and never gave her any grief. She was quick to add, “So I must be doing something right”. Perhaps she was right, and hopefully so, but not necessarily.

All sorts of responses to unacceptable behavior and attitudes come to mind.  And all would likely bring about our desired attitude and behavior adjustment in our kids:

  • Grounding for six months as a result of disrespect
  • Beating them for taking money from your wallet
  • Public humiliation for talking back
  • How about a little water boarding to cure the problem of sneaking out after hours?
  • Yelling and threatening for not eating properly at the table
  • The silent treatment for lying
  • A ball and chain might work well to bring an end to wandering off without permission
  • Washing their mouth out with soap for swearing
  • Ten hour work day in the yard (how ‘bout no food or water?) for failing to do a chore

Exaggerations all, but I think you get the idea.

It might be tempting to indorse any of the above if the only goal in our disciplinary efforts were to effect an immediate change in how our kids are acting. The goal however, is far more profound and far reaching than merely extracting instantaneous changes in how they are currently conducting themselves.

It might help to remember that whenever our kids are behaving in some way that is unacceptable, we are given yet another opportunity to shape and influence both their spirit and their will. And what disciplinary responses we choose will help determine whether we shape and encourage a vibrant and healthy spirit, or whether we actually encourage and reinforce the development of a willful and defiant attitude in them.

Suggestion: Remember that although our response may immediately work to bring about desired changes, there may be undesirable results to our inappropriate choices of disciplinary actions.


Discussion Questions

  1. Did any of these false assumptions ever play a part in how you were raised?
  2. Do any of them occasionally show up in your own parenting efforts?
  3. In addition to the above suggestions, can you share any other ideas that could be helpful? If so, feel free to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comment section below.


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