Once upon a time there were two fathers.
The first father set unreachable standards for his children. He was angry and seemed impossible to please. He constantly reminded his kids that if they didn’t consistently live up to the family name, they were no children of his.
He constantly prodded them with questions and statements such as:
Are you sure you’re part of our family? Your behavior doesn’t reflect it.
I won’t claim you as my child if you keep acting like that.
Fail one more time, and you’re out of the family.
This father’s children were constantly on edge. For many of his kids, his threats didn’t lead to obedience, but rather to rebellion. Even the children who obeyed him did so out of fear, not out of love. They were constantly second-guessing themselves and had tremendous self-doubts. Many of these kids grew up to become adults with behavior problems that lasted a lifetime. Most needed counseling.
The other father was a loving one. He too had high standards for his children, but he was determined to help them live it out. When they fell and failed, he would offer them immediate and full forgiveness. Instead of condemning them, he coached them. Instead of enraging them, he encouraged them. Instead of threatening them, he strengthened them.
Yes, he disciplined his kids when they broke a family rule, but the goal was always to help them live their lives to the full. This dad was almost obsessive about his children walking in confident assurance that he loved them, no matter what.
When his kids broke his rules, he would encourage them with statements such as:
I love you. That’s why I’m going to discipline you.
The consequences I’m going to give you for your choices will be painful, but in the end, they’ll help you live a life of integrity.