Although I never knew the specifics, I remember him telling me the reason for this. His own father, my grandfather, disciplined his seven children the same way. That was because, as a child in 1800's Germany, he was treated much rougher. When he misbehaved, or was even perceived to do so, his father took him to the cellar and beat him unmercifully with a leather belt. The lessons took, but in a different way than his father might have expected - my grandfather vowed to never lay a hand on his own children. Apparently, he never did - thus, my father didn't either. My dad said that his dad rarely even raised his voice, but what he said, and how he looked, was enough to make a lasting impression. My dad learned that method well, because all three of us knew the look and responded accordingly. I'm certainly grateful that the cycle of abuse ended with his father...
Raised in a family business, I was around my parents most of the time and I'm sure underfoot a lot. Both my parents were patient and loving, but I always knew when enough was enough. If pushed to the limit, Mom would spank; Dad spoke sternly and gave the look. I only remember one time, when I was around three or four, when Dad lost his cool with me. He was doing some sort of work on the stairs that led to the attic where my two older sisters slept. I kept stepping up and down on them, right smack-dab in the middle of where he was working. He spoke to me several times, but I ignored him and continued with my little game. Finally, in exasperation, he slapped me on the rear. I burst into tears, my dignity injured much more than my hiney, I'm sure. In a gentle voice, he explained that I needed to do what I was told to do - a lesson I never forgot!
I did, and still do, have great respect for my father. As I look back on my growing-up years, it's easy to see why; he always treated me with respect, even as he disciplined me. Most of the time, both of my parents took the time to explain why what I was doing was not what they expected of me. They concentrated on my actions, not on me as a person, and I think this made all the difference. As I matured, I grew to realize that I did not agree with all of their expectations, but I still respected them and how they felt. My father and I had many heated discussions through the years, and sometimes we simply had to agree to disagree. That, also, has served me well, for I learned that one can love and respect another, but not agree with them on all things.
I am - as my father was, and his father before him - a product of my upbringing and the times. One of my favorite sweatshirts bears the saying: Women who behave rarely make history. Perhaps this is the rebel in me - I was always expected to "behave", but I was also a tomboy and had a stubborn mind of my own. My dad knew this and, although he might not completely agree with this saying, he understood that not all rules are fair. He also knew that we need not always follow along blindly simply because society has certain expectations. Each of us has the right to think, to question, and to strive to be our own person, as we also consider others and the greater needs of society.
I always knew that my father loved me, even when he said "No." Strict, kind, determined, always a gentleman - that was my dad. I carry a part of him with me still, and often when I'm faced with a decision I hear the echo of his voice: "Be a good girl - do the right thing..." Of course, it may depend on just how you define "good" and it isn't always easy to know what the "right" thing is, but I keep trying to aim in that direction. It all boils down to respect, I think; you raised me well, Dad.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:9-11
(It was one heck of a good dance, Dad...)