It is written in King Solomon’s Book of Proverbs (Mishlei): “He who spares his rod hates his son.” Parenting is built on judgment and mercy, just as we are governed by judgment and mercy from Above. There is no place here for unconditional love because the child must sense a balanced influence of these two forces.
In so doing we show him that he has freedom of choice. Let him make his choice every time, but he has to know that the wrong choice will instantly result in a negative reaction. As he grows, the child will acquire increasingly greater freedom for independent action because the negative response, for example, the “rod,” will be increasingly concealed. In the end, we will raise a person who lives in a wide world and knows that he exists between these two forces, reward and punishment, and that in order to follow a straight path, he has to actualize his free will in every step he takes.
The attitude toward all children, from the littlest ones to big kids like us, has to stem from exerting and controlling judgment and mercy, gradually annulling them in accordance with the education level. We give the child more and more freedom, passing to him control over himself, until he comes out into the world and accepts from us these “reigns” of judgment and mercy, so as to become an independent person in their optimal combination, in the middle line.
This is what we instill in him, and he accepts from us the right and left lines, reward and punishment, and continues to build himself with their help.
From the Talk on Education 9/29/10