As a dad, my reaction to this one-liner I heard recently was a thoughtful, "Umm .....what???" But days later, I find I am still fascinated by this concept....and the significant counterpoint that followed "don't".
As I have meditated on this, I have come to believe that punishment of anyone is a poor idea, and it is especially bad for children.
The point of this concept is that we should never punish, but instead we should always discipline. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary makes the distinction more clear:
Punishment: "suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution"
Discipline: "training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character".
When put that way, the differences are obvious:
Punishment looks to the past.
Discipline looks to the future.
Punishment is about settling a wrong.
Discipline is about keeping wrongs from settling in.
The heart of punishment is to scare people out of bad behavior.It's easy to think of children when we think of punishment and discipline, but we do well to consider how we relate to others. Do I punish my friends, my employees, people I interact with at the store....my wife? If I do, how can I use the heart motive of discipline to change how I interact?
The heart of discipline is to love people into good behavior.
Punishment of self is the worst. Maybe you have you have spoken words of punishment to yourself, "I always act stupid like that." Or, "I'm a no good dirty, rotten worm."
The reality is we cannot improve our lives by punishing ourselves.
Jesus told us to "love your neighbor as yourself". If my self love is really more self loathing, or self dislike.....how can I rise above that level in the loving of my neighbor?
But if I love myself as God loves me.....and if I lovingly discipline me instead of punishing me.....THAT love propels me on the pathways of Heaven to do the deeds of the Kingdom of God.