My wife and I found ourselves in the “Animal ER” the other night after our dog accidentally (if you can call raiding the garbage, accidental) ingested some mouse poison. After scaring ourselves to death Googling what happens if a dog eats the stuff, we had to go! We discovered that some very odd characters also go to the Animal ER on Saturday evenings. While we waited in the seats surrounded by that “dog pee just wiped up off the floor” smell, we noticed a police officer pulled up outside with his flashing lights on. After reassuring ourselves that he hadn’t profiled us and was actually talking to a lady in the car outside, I witnessed a strange occurrence. Next to me was a guy with shorts on with very scruffy hair under a “should have been discarded” hat and the distinct smell of too many beers. He took this opportunity to talk with a young fella that was unfortunately, probably his son. He proceeded to tell him that the cops outside were waiting for him because he had been a bad boy. He was about four years old and failed to see any humor in the situation. In fact, he had the look of terror. Now most of us would have recognized that “face” and ended the ruse, but not this guy. Despite the fact that his son was now crying, he said, “They are here to lock you up because you have been bad!” Then gestured like he was going to turn him in. The young boy, now frantic, was scared to death. Then good ol’ Pops said, “Are you gonna be good? Huh? From now on are you gonna be good?” His son, apparently to escape jail time, said, “Yes, I’ll be good Daddy!” Well, that seemed to satisfy Mr. World’s Worst Parent and he let the boy escape.
Now let me ask you a question. Does it seem in any way reasonable to scare your child into doing the right thing? Does anyone really believe that if you can fill a child with fear, he will become a well-adjusted adult, content with following the rules and being obedient? Oh you can be a big old bully and scare the bejesus out of your kids, but what do you suppose happens when you (Mr. Tough Guy/Ms. Tough Gal) aren’t around? My guess is the child will do the exact opposite of what you tried to scare him/her into doing. No-one on earth is successfully motivated by fear. All fear does is “make” you comply out of pure obligation or fear of consequences. In other words, your heart isn’t in it and when your heart isn’t in it, you are going to get a bad result. It reminds me (I know, I know…I digress) of when Dad’s think the way to make their son the toughest kid on the block, is by calling him a “punk” or a “sissy” or a _____(you fill in the blank)! Same kinda logic. Maybe if I humiliate this boy or make him feel weak and convince him he isn’t acting like a man, when he grows up he will magically transform into a mans man overnight! Ya think? No…ummm here’s another flash of light; what he will be is scared, insecure and the opposite of what you had in mind. How could he not be? You want to make a man’s man? (See my boys :-)) Then, love them and love them and love them and watch what happens! Ever see Mr. Man’s Man NFL quarterback hug his Pops on TV and maybe even kiss him on the cheek? Haha evidence of proper man’s man training! Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, fear! Fear is the world’s worst teacher. Oh you may have learned a vivid lesson, but that lesson when attached to dread isn’t optimum training. Let’s say you learned that when you grab a snake it bites you. Vivid lesson! Now when you see a snake you run for the hills! Hmm great training. Seems like a better approach might be to love you through your apprehension and teach you what is really involved with snakes.
Now, love motivation is an entirely different animal. Lessons learned out of love have no downside to them. This, my friends, is how God teaches us. All that, “you don’t want to end up in hell” stuff never came from God. It came from that preacher who learned long ago that if you want to control people all you have to do is scare ’em to death! Anytime you are doing something good out of fear, it is still wrong because fear is wrong… Ending in – bad results! Can you guess how God motivates us?
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance [a change of heart]? Romans 2:4
Said another way, God motivates us to do things how He says to do them by being so good and kind to us, that we respond. No threats, no intimidation, no fear, just pure love motivation. If we fall short, He loves us anyway. If we go astray, He keeps loving us into coming back!
Do you want to raise a well-adjusted child that will be a happy, well-adjusted adult? Then, just love them. Love them and take time to teach them “why” and you’ll see what I mean. And, while you are working on that, think to yourself, “am I doing what I’m doing based on love or am I doing it out of fear?” What is your motive? Anything that makes you feel afraid is not good for you. Relationships built on fear are precarious. Anything built on fear is precarious!
Do what you are going to do because of love. There’s no force in the world stronger than love and nothing sweeter to your soul than love. Love really is what makes the world go round! Really!
Oh and the world’s worst parent…I guess we have to love him too!