Discipline, it’s always going to be a hot topic in society. I think because one family can have polar opposite views to the next and still both produce happy, healthy children and then adults. Lack of discipline in childhood is often noted as the main culprit in cases of youth crime etc, but when I try to think about what it is to us and the role it plays it in our family, it seems really ambiguous.
So I looked up the definition:-
“Training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves, often in the form of rules, and punishments if these rules are broken, or the behaviour produced by this training.”
I found this really interesting, ‘training’ and ‘punishment,’ just absolutely not words we would like to use when describing the way we parent. The way we care for our children. But it did get me thinking about different terms that are regularly used, for example ‘shaping’ children. Why do we feel a need to shape a child? We provide them with information and they shape themselves accordingly. Anything that compromises personal choice is surely ultimately repressive in nature? Which is not in any way a desirable factor towards personal development.
However, at the same time, I do feel we need to provide a level of guidance, I prefer to think of input as advisory and not compulsory. I guess a child pretty quickly comes to understand what kind of general behaviour is expected of them within their own family unit. Through experiences they’ve had and how different behaviours have affected those around them and hopefully not just through ‘punishments.’ I would definitely prefer our children to make choices based on what they feel is right rather than to avoid a potential punishment. Its such a tricky subject though and surrounded by controversy.
In our house I’m definitely the ‘bad cop’ parent if there had to be one chosen. I dislike this fact but at the same time I can see why Rob is ‘good cop.’ Although we always support each other I’m definitely the stricter parent. This was the way it was in my childhood too with my mum and dad, I wonder if this was an attributing factor? Who knows!
I read lots of amazing blogs about parents who don’t go through the ‘power struggles’ because they don’t try to have ultimate power. They do not have any rules or expectations of behaviour at all. I think they’re incredible and I really can see the benefits of not parenting in a way that, perhaps artificially, directs the child towards desirable behaviours, but I’m just not comfortable to adopt that method entirely myself.
So, we try to find some middle ground and balance, trying to give the children choice and autonomy wherever we feel we possibly can, and encouraging them to question always when they do not understand why, or agree with requests.
We still definitely have ‘power struggles’ at times, which we hate, but I think we have come to accept that nothing really stays the same for long with children, so we roll with the changes and continue to try to adjust our style accordingly-Parenting is a kind of ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ job generally, isn’t it!
What does the word ‘discipline’ mean for you in your family?