Home > God > Letting the Sun Go Down While Still Disciplining

Letting the Sun Go Down While Still Disciplining

As a parent, I knew this day would come. Just not so soon. Last night, my daughter went to bed while still being disciplined. In fact, the discipline I doled out lasts for 24 hours. Too harsh? I’m still wrestling with that today.

Being the father of a toddler and an infant, it’s hard to believe I once thought that taking care of an infant was difficult. Don’t get me wrong. Changing diapers, soothing, bathing, wolfing down food before the baby wakes up or cries, and lugging no less than 3 bags around at all times was tough, but compared with having to reason with a toddler and dealing with the range of emotions they go through? It’s a walk in the park. Infants usually cry in discomfort; toddlers cry in defiance. After all, it’s hard to be defiant when you can’t move away or talk back. A baby that won’t stop crying is frustrating, but wanton defiance can be infuriating.

As a result, I’ve lost it on numerous occasions. Thankfully, there is forgiveness, but I still question the way I discipline my child and it’s something my wife and I talk about regularly. I’ll probably cover more on disciplining kids in a later post because it’s such a huge topic to talk about, but suffice it to say that in my experience, the Bible holds true:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. – Proverbs 22:15

I love my daughter, but I’m not dumb or delusional: she’s far from an angel.

So back to the story at hand. My wife is feeding D2, so my daughter and I are doing our nightly routine–have a quick dance party, brushing teeth, washing face, changing into PJs, reading a book–and when we get to the reading book part, she snatches the book out of my hands and yells at me saying that the book was hers. We’ve already told her on numerous occasions that snatching is not nice and not something we’ll tolerate. Since my wife was busy breastfeeding, I didn’t have time to consult with her, so I calmly pried took the book out of her death grip hands and told her we won’t be reading a book tonight. For those new to this blog, my daughter loves to read. In fact, we don’t turn on the TV when we need to do something; we ask her to go read books and she’ll entertain herself for hours. So sending her to bed without a book is like sending me to bed without food.

As she sat on her bed weeping, I wondered if I was being too harsh. We still went through the rest of our nightly routine–talking about the day, singing a few songs, and praying–and I explained to her again why I wasn’t reading her a book tonight. I told her that if she were nice, we could read a book tomorrow night and I assured her I loved her.

As I left her room, she said, “I love you, appa.” This was somewhat reassuring but I told my wife what happened and asked her if she thought it was too harsh. Since we’d already told her on numerous occasions that snatching and yelling was unacceptable, we agreed that it was ok. But it still felt odd going to sleep on those terms.

My wife and I have been married for 5+ years, and one of the verses I often took out of context was from Ephesians

26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. – Ephesians 4

Thankfully, I never pulled the submission card (“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” Eph 5:22) as that never ends well, but I did pull the “we can’t go to sleep because we’re still fighting” card plenty of times. What Paul is writing here isn’t literal, so if you’re mad at 8am, that doesn’t give you the rest of the day to remain mad; he’s talking about the importance of not nursing anger and carrying it over. And I couldn’t help but wonder if my daughter would be bitter towards me or if she would no longer snatch and yell, eagerly looking forward to reading a book with me the next night. Will she think I was disciplining/rejecting her or that I was disciplining/rejecting her actions?

And for me, that’s probably the hardest part of disciplining my child. Sure, I want her to behave right, but I also want my daughter to know that I love her unconditionally. She was still sleeping when my wife and I left for work this morning and I’m looking forward to getting home and plopping down on the couch with her, reading her favorite books. Because the great part of parenting is that every day is a new day to remind my kids and my wife that I love them unconditionally.

What about you? Have you ever gone to bed with your child upset? How did he/she respond the next day?

Categories: God Tags: , ,
  1. August 31, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Last week, my 3 year old bit me. We were all wrestling and having fun. I suppose she was so excited, she didn’t know how to handle it. Of course, I screamed bloody murder & the fun immediately stopped. I gave her the lecture of not biting and to apologize. She refused to apologize, so I sent her to her room to think things over (crying). She ended up falling asleep. We didn’t get a chance to make up. Was I wrong for wanting her to say sorry?

    • Pop
      August 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      My daughter’s yet to refuse to apologize, so I’m not sure how I would handle that. How was she the next morning?

  2. August 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Discpline is hard. I think you did the right thing. Letting her know that if she is going to exhibit that behavior then she wont be able to read books. I have had to do this with my kids too. And it’s not easy, especially when it’s close to bed time. And so far, they haven’t woken up mad. It seems to be more my husband or I that feel a little more iffy about it than the kids, but we stick to our guns, so to speak. But it’s the right thing to do. if my son doesn’t listen and stop at curbs on bike rides, we immediately turn around and he has to walk. If my daughter won’t share a toy or book while playing, it gets taken away and she gets time out. You tried to squash the behavior right when it happens. And it’s hard,so great job.

    • Pop
      August 31, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      “And so far, they haven’t woken up mad.”

      That’s really comforting. I’ll let you know how it goes when I get home. 🙂

  3. August 31, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Oh, just wait until she tells you she hates you. That’s a fun one.

    I preach consistency with discipline, but I’m not perfect. Life is so much easier when you nip a bad behavior in the bud rather than let it go because you can’t stand to have your child upset with you. You absolutely did the right thing, and I bet tonight she’ll not even remember the bad feeling, but she’ll remember the lesson.

    My boys ran 15 laps each around the house today because they were caught playing in our van AGAIN. Good thing our house isn’t too big. And I know they are done sneaking into the car to play.

    • Pop
      August 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      “Oh, just wait until she tells you she hates you. That’s a fun one. ”

      I’m not looking forward to that one. And 15 laps? You sound like my coaches back in high school. It was effective then, and I’m sure it’s effective now. 😛

  4. August 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    You know, I wouldn’t sweat it. Toddler’s are more resilient (physically and emotionally) than a lot of people give them credit for. The important thing is that you kept your cool, regardless of the fact that this is something that has come up before in the past. In my experience, I have seen that kids learn the best through repetition. Mine have. I’m sure that yours will (or do) as well. What matters is that you both said goodnight and you said your I love you’s.

    • Pop
      September 1, 2010 at 11:39 am

      It’s true. D1 did remember somewhat, but she moved on and enjoyed story time. Too bad I can’t move on from things like she does. 😛

  5. Amy
    August 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    I have to agree with Bethany, don’t be so consumed with them liking you that you forget to be the parent and stop bad behavior. That in itself will cause problems and behavioral issues.
    The toddler years were tough, I won’t sugar coat it for you. But if you remain consistent it really does pay off. My kids are 15 and 16. They are not perfect angels, but they are awesome kids and a a joy to be around.
    Matt is right too, they are resilient and she will love you when you get home.

    • Pop
      September 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

      That’s very comforting. And yes, she did love me when I got home. Thanks, Amy!

  6. August 31, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Not yet…I haven’t sent Tater to bed and still been mad at him, or him mad at me (us). But I know it will happen. Being a parent is confusing and often frustrating – I don’t think I’ve ever questioned myself this much before!

    • Pop
      September 2, 2010 at 9:27 am

      Me too! And there are so many decisions we parents make daily, that there’s always things to question. But as long as Tater doesn’t question your love for him, I think you’re good!

  7. August 31, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I say you did the right thing. My daughter isn’t old enough to understand discipline just yet, but I come from a family that believes in Proverbs 22:6 (The Message) – “Point your kids in the right direction — when they’re old they won’t be lost.”

    I admire my mom and dad for raising us the way they did. Sure, at the time, my siblings and I thought they were so uncool and were angry at them for ruining our fun and all that. But as we grew older and matured, we realized just how blessed we were to have them. And now, my sister (who’s mom to a feisty almost-4 year old) is carrying over her hard-learned lessons into mothering her own child. We all want what’s best for our kids, but giving in to their demands as an easy way out isn’t really going to help them later in life.

    • Pop
      September 2, 2010 at 9:29 am

      Well-said, Cyrene. We believe in that too. I still remember lessons my parents taught me, whether consciously or subconsciously, so it’s a good reminder that my actions as a dad are long lasting.

  8. Veronica
    September 1, 2010 at 1:14 am

    I think you made the right call. I wouldn’t equate a long punishment with harboring anger b/c you obviously aren’t–you’re disciplining in a way that will make an impression and most likely make a difference in her behavior. I give you thumbs up!

    • Pop
      September 2, 2010 at 9:30 am

      Thanks, Veronica. It’s a pretty fine–often confusing–line between punishment and discipline. We’re still trying to figure it out.

  9. September 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I’ve not had to do this yet but kids are resilient and forgiving little people – I think she will understand your need to be firm, and continue to adore you like the number one daddy you are to her despite a not-so-stellar night.

    I’m pretty sure when she saw you again the next day, she was all smiles wasn’t she? Forgiving and forgetting are two things that I think are very natural children, although it’s unfortunate that they diminish as we grow into adults. It’s sad, really.

    • Pop
      September 2, 2010 at 9:31 am

      She absolutely was. It was fantastic. I have a lot to learn from her regarding forgiving and forgetting.

  10. September 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Ugh. Finally? I understand when my parents said things would hurt them more than me. I’ve had to do the same thing with my son (for different reasons) at bed time. That story time? Is important to me. It’s 10 minutes where my son will sit in my lap & read with me. It is something we both enjoy…and it really sucks when I have to take it away for a disciplinary reason.

    I’ve had that happen many times, where I wanted to do something special for the kids & then they’ll go and do something obnoxious/defiant/etc and I can’t do the special thing for them anymore.

    Sometimes sticking to my principles & trying to raise quality human beings? Really sucks.

    Thus far? They have been pretty quick to “forgive” & do not typically wake up upset. I think it really is harder on me.

    • Pop
      September 2, 2010 at 9:33 am

      You’re right – the 24 hours was much harder on me than her. Thankfully, it seemed like she learned from it.

  11. September 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    oh, gaa! You are such a good father and all, that now I can’t even look you in the eye on accounta I feel so guilty calling you a samoan spammer and all.

    WHen will I learn to shuttup.

    You rock this dad gig.


    • Pop
      September 8, 2010 at 10:15 am

      *sob* Don’t know how you did it, but you just made this spam bot shed a tear.

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