“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:20-21).
A grave danger lurks beneath the surface of discipline. Children have not yet learned to separate who they are with what they have done. Our discipline techniques need to distinguish between the identity of the child and the behavior. For example, instead of saying, “You are a liar and I can never trust you,” try saying something like, “Lying does not reflect who you are. It makes it difficult to trust someone when they lie to me, and I want to able to continue to trust you.”
Lengthy disciplines discourage children and create a cycle of rebellion. Any grounding more than a week produces discouragement and thoughts of “why even try.” Think of it this way. To a six year old child, a year is one sixth of his life. To a thirty year old, a year is only one thirtieth of his life. Time runs much faster for parents. What is a short time for us is “forever” to them.
Corrective discipline produces positive results. Revengeful discipline produces a sense of power in the adult and a sense of defeat in the child.
Colossians specifically addresses the man because he symbolizes power in the child’s life. A father’s tendency to want to control life leans toward severe discipline of the child. The Holy Spirit warns us against the hidden danger. A wise father will be careful of the power pitfalls and avoid them.