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November 15, 2018

The Challenge of Discipline

When I was young I loved watching the movie Sound of Music. I remember in particular the part where the father (who was a military man) came home from a trip and his eight children lined up to greet him.

Each would step up, shout their greeting and salute before stepping back in line. Discipline looked so easy, just a couple of songs, some talking to and a few threats and you could produce picture perfect kids.

I sure wish it was that easy. Anyone with children knows it doesn’t work that way. Many times I like having my nephew over for a week during the holidays.

Truth be told, there are times when the three boys drive me up the wall so much so I can’t even keep to volume seven. To be fair I doubt the boys are trying to get me incarcerated often they are just out having a good time and forget a couple of things like not taking off just before church and have me look for them all over the hood.

I remember once they ticked me off and I lectured them over and over again like a broken record as they sat there trying to interject with explanations whenever I took time out to breath.

Per chance, I glanced at my reflection in the car mirror and recognised that I needed some stress management classes.

With my face red from yelling and my hair all over the place, I looked like the local loony, I am sure the watchman thought the same thing from the look on his face but was too polite to say so.

As a child I always wondered why mothers did not come with a mute button: why they felt this need to talk at volume ten and to keep repeating themselves.

Now that I have children I realise that my mom was not practicing for the opera, it was we who were driving her over the edge.

All in all, instilling discipline is probably the least favorite part of parenting. Yet it is the most rewarding (at least in the future). I keep remembering an example I heard once when attending a parenting session.

The lecturer gave a story about a man and his two sons who lived next to a railway line. One day the boys were busy playing on the railroad without noticing a train approaching.

For whatever reason the father happened to see them and recognised that he would never make it on time to save the boys. He told them to jump immediately and they did.

This instant obedience saved their lives. He challenged the class by asking what the end of the story would have been if we were the dad and those were our children.

Tony and I both knew that at that point in time our boys would have been minced meat. That story became our guiding factor; no matter how tired we are, or frustrated, or even where we are, infractions have to be dealt with consistently (and believe me that is easier said than done).

Often we wonder whether we are succeeding and sometimes we are convinced we are not. Yet we plod on, further more isn’t that what parenting is all about; plodding on?

The beauty is that with time the plodding pays off for as the Bible states “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 12:11.

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