So I was packing Nathan's lunchbox last night, and looked up to see Gracie soundly spanking her Dora doll with the wooden "spanky spoon" that we use for discipline.
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24
As a matter of fact, I had just spanked her less than an hour before for jumping off the hearth after I told her not to and gave her the consequences if she chose to disobey me. She chose to disobey me and so she got a swat on the leg with the spanky spoon. It does not require a very hard swat to get the message across which is why I prefer to use it.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.Hebrews 12:11
Anyway, I walked into the living room and asked her why she was spanking Dora. I explained that the only reason for spanking was for disobedience. She thought for a moment, and then said, "She jumped off the fireplace." I agreed that in light of her disobedience, she needed to be disciplined, but reminded her that it was important to hold Dora and let her know that she still loved her.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Hebrews 12:5-7
Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. Job 5:17
The reason I post this is because when I first saw Grace spanking her doll with a spoon, I was horrified. Horrified that my daughter would hit her doll and worried that I was doing something damaging to her psyche by holding to the biblical principle of loving discipline. But after some thought, this question came to my mind: Isn't this what is supposed to happen? I teach my children appropriate discipline, and they model it in the only way they know how by role playing. Don't I want my children to understand what it is to lovingly and firmly maintain obedience and respect authority? How will they respect and submit to God's authority if they have no earthly model?
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Hebrews 12:9
So the next time I see Nathan or Gracie spanking a beloved stuffed animal or doll I will remember that they are modeling parenting skills that I want them to take with them into adulthood. I don't want them to see discipline as unfair and arbitrary, but as an expression of my love, and by extension, God's love for them.