What comes to your mind when I say ‘discipline’?
Do you think of punishment? Restrictions?
Maybe how you had spankings or time outs when you were a kid?
If you look in the dictionary, you’ll find this:
dis·ci·pline the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.
Did you catch that?
“The practice of training people…”
That’s what I’d like us to focus on—because this isn’t about pain, or inflicting things on our children.
This is about teaching them and training them.
Showing them the WHY in life, so they can enjoy their lives more fully and interact with others in positive ways.
The Last Words A Father Could Give
I’ve shared one of my hardest parenting moments when I talked about my son being taken by the state.
Due to choices he decided to make, he took himself out of my protection—something I had warned him about time and again.
I can still see the look on his face, absolutely terrified as he’s about to go into a government program where he would have no choice but to comply.
It was in that moment that I saw a parenting opportunity.
One that would help my son,…help me be the strength to him that I had always tried to be—and to make this experience work for his good.
My wife and I were given about 10 minutes to visit with him, love him, and say our goodbyes. We were sitting in a cement cell, door locked, and large glass windows where everything we did could be openly observed.
After Kathi loved her little boy, I asked him to stand up so I could give him a hug. As I did so, I whispered in his ear.
“You chose this path, son. As much as I wish I could take this from you, this is where you chose to be—and the path before you only has a few options, so listen closely to me.”
He nodded, and I pulled him back, leaning my forehead to touch his.
“I know you, son. You’re smart, you know how to read people, and unfortunately, you have my extreme stubbornness and determination to survive, which isn’t a bad thing—but it won’t help you here.
“I want you to submit to what you’re going to go through.
“There are going to be times when it feels like this will last forever, but that’s the lie. It’ll last as long as you make it last.
“You submit to the programs, to the counseling, and you make sure you always, at every turn, do what your mother and father taught you to do. Respect your elders.
“Use your manners, and do not….I repeat DO NOT try to figure out how to play the game. You submit and go through the process. Learn what they want to teach you.
“Do that, and I promise you this experience will go by faster, and when you come out the other side of this, and come back home—you’ll be grateful for what you learned.”
He nodded, but said nothing.
“I told you what would happen if you took the wrong path. Now you’re hear. So I’m going to tell you, if you choose to play the game, you will stay here until you remember what I taught you.”
I grabbed him and hugged him so tight I thought my heart would break if I let him go.
“What are you going to choose?” I asked.
My son wiped his face on his sleeve and then looked me in the eyes.
That choice changed his life, and he graduated that state program to a standing ovation, led by the judge himself.
Each of our children are different.
They have different needs, capacities, and often we have to fine tune the way we work with them, so they can learn the very same principles we are teaching a sibling.
Focusing on your WHY can aid you in how you address certain challenges and in how you discipline your child.
When you truly understand your WHY—there’s less fear, hesitation, and you can let more of your love flow outward, towards your child.
Even when you’re frustrated, sad, even confused by the choices they might be making.
Knowing your WHY helps you fine tune what you have to do at any given moment, to be the best parent you can be for your child.
This is about noticing the details.
Your WHY tells you what kind of parent you have chosen to be, and what kind of child you are striving to raise.
Now look at how you’re teaching your child, and the results you’re getting.
As an example, some of my children responded more to a spanking that anything else at certain points in their lives.
Two of my kids—Evan and Ruby—the oldest boy and youngest girl, do not. It’s not about the pain of a spanking, but the pain of me being disappointed in them.
Which, between you and me, I prefer a LOT more than the spanking!
But knowing this has allowed me to fine tune the process of ‘spanking’—where I put far more effort into the talks before and after the pat on the backside.
It didn’t have to hurt to make it work—it was just the followthrough on my word, so I wasn’t a liar—and then stressing how I felt that got that process to work for both of them.
Now Evan is one of the finest adults I know.
This is going to take all that you’ve learned about your WHY to make the slight adjustments to your method of parenting.
I look at it this way…
There is no stability without law.
You are the law giver as the parent.
But there is no law without a punishment/consequence.
Yet the punishment is about teaching, not retribution.
That’s where the fine tuning comes in.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Take some time to look at the way you’re parenting.
Make a list of the core principles—the things you try and teach your children.
Are they doing them?
Are they consistent?
Are YOU consistent?
Does your child truly understand what you’re asking of them?
If not, how can you better explain and teach them?
Make the adjustments.
You’ve got this.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first season of FUNdamentals of Parenting.
You may have noticed that this season was released all at once, rather than the weekly flow, which we originally planned.
The reason for that, is I didn’t want you to wait for this important information—when I knew many needed it now.
So now you can binge the articles and podcasts, and there is a great deal more to come.
There will be a two month break before the second season is launched, but look for bonus materials, which will come out between now and the next season release.
There are at least two books to publish during this break, as well as a few fun surprises!
“When you come to the end of your rope in disciplining your child, never get mad. Get even.
A clever parent doesn’t have to be mean to be understood.”