I’ve just considered one of the parenting proverbs in a new light.

Proverbs 13:24 says:

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

I’ve always read this to mean something like “If you don’t discipline your child, you are acting in a way that is unloving towards your child”.

But  . . .

Do you ever hear parents complaining about their children? You hear them talking about how the child is snotty, or not controllable, or has a mind of her own, or always disrespectful*. And then you watch them and see that the parent doesn’t believe in using negative consequences.

This past month, I’ve been hearing (you probably have been, too) about a new book called “Go The <naughty word**> To Sleep”. The back cover describes it as ‘Profane, affectionate and radically honest’.  Now I can imagine that this is a very funny book. But one reason it has struck a nerve is parents don’t like their children (at least with respect to this subject). And many times kids get this way because they aren’t punished.

So I wonder if you could (and even should) read ‘Whoever spares the rod hates his son’ in this way: If you don’t discipline your child, you may grow to dislike him.

Read this way – it’s a warning. I think we should read it as a warning.

* I am aware that there are unruly children who are are well disciplined. I am also aware that a proverb is not a promise.

** Yes, the Queen Mother of swear words.