Sitting on our kitchen table is a small container called The Box of Encouragement.
Inside of this box are 3×5 cards that we we use to write notes of love and kindness to others in the family. I recently wrote a note to my 9 year old son, Seth, and left it on the table before leaving the house one morning.
But that wasn’t the only note I wrote that morning before I left. I wrote another note to put on my iPad as I left it on my bed stand to ensure that none of our kids used it without permission (which they had recently started doing). It was important to me that they weren’t just defaulting to device time when they didn’t have something else to do.
I was certain that my note would make the point very clear without any ‘ifs, ands, or buts’.
However, when I came home for lunch that day, I noticed the Seth was crouched behind the front door, playing with the iPad in hand as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I sat down next to him, and asked him, “Son, did you get permission to use the iPad from your Mom?” He looked at me with an “uh-oh” stare and said, “Um… No.”
I said, “Well, didn’t you read the note that I left this morning?” He said, “Yes, sir.”
“Then why are you using the iPad without permission… You’re going to have to be in trouble.”
He shook his head with a yes as tears began to well up in his eyes, and he said, “I’m sorry, Dad.”
For whatever reason, I told him that we would take care of the discipline a little later before I left from lunch, rather than immediately… and I’m glad that I did.
A few minutes later, I came to find out that the only note my son had read that morning was the yellow one I had left personally for him on the kitchen table. The other note on the iPad had inadvertently gotten pushed aside by his younger brother who didn’t even bother to try reading it. What I had thought was an act of willful disobedience on his part was actually much less, and I had almost disciplined my son wrongfully.
When I asked Seth about the situation, he said, “I didn’t know for sure what you were talking about, I just figured I had missed something you told me in my note, and that I was wrong.”
I apologized for assuming his wrong intentions, and told him never to be afraid to ask questions, or explain himself, if he feels he’s being wrongfully punished.
While I’m glad things worked out the way that they did that day, I’m most thankful that I didn’t discipline my son for something wrong that he didn’t do. I was reminded of the importance of doing my best to have all the facts prior to enforcing discipline, and the value of allowing my children to explain themselves and their intentions.
“When your child is in trouble, never underestimate the value of asking them questions, allowing their honest feedback, and listening to their heart.”
I was also reminded of the great picture this is of what Jesus Christ did for each of us when He went to the cross. Having done nothing wrong, He willingly laid down his life for us, suffering wrongfully in our place, like a sheep led to the slaughter.
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7
When he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. I Peter 2:23-24
I can honestly say that I’m thankful for a son who was willing to be punished for something he didn’t even do, simply because he trusted his father. I’m even more thankful for a Savior Who was willing to be punished for my sins, of which He was not guilty Himself, because He too trusted His Father, and was willing to pay the ultimate price for you and me.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Have you ever had a similar situation in your family, I’d love to hear about it.