The Merriam-Webster online dictionary
defines discipline in several different ways, but the one I find most important as a parent is, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”
When I look at my life, I have to admit that there are areas in which I am disciplined and others where there is work to be done. Interestingly, the things I am most disciplined about appear to have absolutely nothing to do with any type of punishment I received as a child.
One of my strengths is that I happen to be an extremely hard worker. I have held down as many as four jobs at once and managed to excel at each one. I was never punished for not being a hard worker, and I never received lectures on the importance of this quality. I was, however, raised by a father who ran his own business and often worked long hours to get things done. When I joined the work force as a teen, I quickly learned that the best way not only to hold down a job, but to do it with ease, was to work hard. This proved to be the key to receiving raises, advancements, and good references for future jobs as well.
My discipline in this area, then, seems to be a direct result of both modeling and “training.” That training, however, came not from my parents, but from life experience. It was not forced on me, but simply came about as a natural extension of living. The vast majority of what I have learned thus far has come to me in a similar way.
My own experiences with growing into a somewhat disciplined adult have served to validate my personal views on discipline in parenting. It is my belief that the most important quality of any person who wishes to care for children is an attitude of respect, and I try to cultivate this attitude in myself and apply it in my role as a parent at all times. Because I respect my daughter and trust in her ability to learn from her own experiences, I don’t feel that punishment is necessary. Ditto moralizing, lecturing, and strict rule-setting.
As an adult, I still do things that are inappropriate at times, and I still lack discipline in areas, despite having been given healthy doses of punishment as a child. When I do something inappropriate, however, life gives me feedback in some form or another. When I stay up too late, I find myself dragging the next day. When I eat something that isn’t good for me, I don’t feel well later on. When I am rude or unkind to another person, I may get similar treatment back, but either way I’ll feel badly for my behavior.
I fully expect my daughter to make mistakes, but I fully trust her to become a disciplined person by learning from them. My goal is to respect her need to mess up and give her the space to do so. My job is to trust her to take valuable lessons away from her experiences, without needing to hear me say, “I told you so.” I will provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, and even give advice if I’m asked to. I will do my best to model a reflective attitude and a willingness to learn from my own mistakes while acting as a support when needed. I am the product of my experiences, and I look forward to living respectfully with my daughter as she is molded and disciplined by her own.
Used with Creative Commons License
Please join us all week, June 27-July 1, 2011, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. We have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts – new articles will be posted on the following theme days: