Sunday, June 14, 2015

Discipline in Our House (Or, Raising Men and Women, not Fools)

I had a rather stiff argument with my son the other day. His sister had made an inappropriate joke in a text to a friend using my phone, and I saw it. No one was offended except for me. Even the receiver of the joke found it funny. I was still very disappointed in my daughter's choice of words (and before your mind goes too far with this it was nothing serious--just base 10-year old humor) and I reprimanded her for them. I also had a conversation with her about using gracious words. I issued what I felt was an appropriate disciplinary action (she chose and copied a scripture verse several times about gracious words.) Forgiven, behind us. No worries.

The case that he put forth was that it wasn't serious, and she hadn't really said anything too bad, and kids think that kind of thing is funny, etc, and that we should let it go, but he agreed with me that she should have never used my phone to make that joke! (It's okay to make a crass joke, but not via Mom's phone...what?)

My argument in response was that it is not my job to condone childish, foolish behavior. What happens among the kids when I am not around is (blessedly) their domain. I encourage them to work out issues among themselves without adults, but if they can't we are happy to mediate--though they are seldom happy with the solutions we provide! (Funny, that!) However, when their speech, actions and behaviors come to my attention and they do not measure up to the standards we have set in our home, then I call them to account. 

My swift and firm reply to him was,

"I am not raising you to be children. I am raising you to be a man and a woman." 

I am a pretty lenient mother, I think. I'm somewhat of a pushover when the kids want to do things. I have trouble enforcing bedtimes and rigid procedures and rules, mainly because I don't like them myself. Nevertheless, there are a few immoveable lines that in my mind cannot be crossed, and when they are, that is when discipline results. It is these standards which I believe will make my children into strong people--a man and woman of character, integrity, and gentility.

Good manners and good grammar never go out of style. 

One cannot go wrong with genuine good manners. They are a standard which gets us through even the most detestable situations with the most offensive of company. One who observes good manners can always go home with a clean conscience and say, "That was awful, but at least I was kind." Good grammar is just...good grammar. Of course we must learn when to speak and when not to, but when one must speak, to be well spoken and articulate is akin to having good manners. It will take you far in life.

The older serves the younger and the younger respects the older.

This adage solves nearly every disagreement. I can come into any situation with my children and ask them if they have served and / or respected each other in the way they know is right. That means that the Godly standard of self-sacrifice is modeled by the older. He is to treat her gently and with kindness, even if she seems unreasonable. In turn, I can ask her if she has respected him. Has she been selfish, ignored his wishes, listened to his reason for wanting something or for acting in a certain way? It nearly always dispels the unreasonable or irrational thinking. A hang of the head from both of them and a genuine "sorry" is always the result. I don't need to pick through the details. I only need to remind them of the Godly standard that we have set, and ask them if they think they have met it.

If it makes you ugly, it's time to quit.

Computer, video games, board games, make-believe games with nebulous rules, projects or school work that is exceedingly frustrating, conversations or arguments that go nowhere--It doesn't matter what it is, but when the "ugly" starts showing, it's time to back down and retreat. Go to your room, change activities, take a shower, part company...but listening or watching the ugly will not be tolerated.

(Borrowed from a friend) When we're tired and hungry, we're apt to sin

I heard my dear friend and mentor say this to her daughter once years ago. Her daughter rolled her eyes and dutifully repeated the phrase as whatever correction was needed settled in and a situation was calmed. I thought, "Oh. That's good. I'm using that!" And I have! (Thanks, Sue!) It is SO true, and my baby girl has always been a hangry monster. When she is hungry she becomes so unreasonable that you can't always even convince her to eat. We finally had to teach her, when she wasn't hungry, that when we tell her to eat, she'd better eat or things would get bad. Okay, since I'm throwing my WHOLE family under the bus in this post, I'll just say--she gets this from her father.

Once when I had to remind my daughter of this wise adage, I had her repeat the phrase, just as my wise friend once did. She said in a lilting tone, "When we're tired and hungry we ought to sin."

Um, no, Baby Girl. something.

I read the book of Proverbs constantly. It is part of my daily reading, and every time I get to Proverbs 31 I cycle back and start at the beginning again. I cannot say how many times I have read this book, but believe me...It's ALL there. All the parenting wisdom anyone would ever need is in that book. It discusses the effects of discipline, the lack of it, and delineates the differences between wise folk and fools. Here's a hint--the fools are typically not the ones who are well-disciplined. Read it. Raise men and women--not fools.

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