Unpleasant discipline

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Ashley Thaba

By Ashley Thaba

MY daughter would rather take her school holiday and watch television than do chores or read a book. Therefore, the other day, I pulled the cord on the television until she had read a book for one hour in her room and told me about it. She whimpered and complained, “This is boring! I don’t want to read!” My helper responded: “Mma, just let her watch TV. She doesn’t want to read. Shame!”

This scenario has played out more times than I can count! A scene where my child or another pitches an uncomfortable fit about not wanting to do something and the parent who insists on the child doing the right thing, albeit not the favourite thing, is shamed somehow and encouraged to give in to stop the crying.

Today I want to talk about this.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined — and everyone undergoes discipline — then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.

“How much more should we submit to the father of spirits and live!

“They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

“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 12:7-11

For some reason, we seem to think the most “loving” thing to do when a child doesn’t like a task is to give in. Or perhaps, we give in because we just get so annoyed with the whining that we want it to stop. Here is a fact.

Building a disciplined life is not easy nor pleasant. Like my daughter,  I also would much rather sit and watch television than doing actual work.

However, my family would starve if I did that. Thankfully, my parents taught me similar lessons as a child that forced me to discipline myself to do things I didn’t want to do then, but I am thankful I can do now.

As parents, it is so easy to just give in and think about the peaceful quiet that awaits the home after the child stops crying.

I have fallen prey to these manipulation tactics and given in way more often than I am proud to admit.

On the contrary, on those days when I stand my ground — sometimes getting a headache from the whining! Ha — when the child actually does those dishes she doesn’t want to do, cleans that room she doesn’t want to do, reads a book when he would rather play outside with his friends — on those days when the child finishes the task and looks at me with pride and says, “I did it!” I know, I am slowly building a child with perseverance, character and discipline. This child won’t starve one day! Ha!

Let’s also go back and look at this verse. How do we know when discipline is good? Many of us liken discipline to when we have had enough and lose our temper and give that child a good beating! Is that discipline? Is it the same thing as a beating? Observe the outcome.

The type of discipline the Bible encourages produces a harvest of righteousness and peace by those who have been trained by it.

When we lose our temper, there might be temporary peace in the home because the child is afraid of the wrath of mom and dad. And that serves a purpose… for a while… but because the heart is actually afraid of you, it just means they might be learning the art of manipulation to do what their heart desires when you aren’t there.

However, we can discipline in love and clearly state why we are doing what we are doing and lead our children to understand we aren’t disciplining because we are mad or annoyed — but rather doing our job as a parent to direct them to a path that will lead to more peace in their lives and the lives of those around them.

When our children understand this, it helps their character to change — the very motivation of why they do what they do. When this happens, even when we aren’t around they will do the right thing.

This is why it says that good discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Let me challenge you as I work on this as well.

Parenting is not easy. It takes daily work and many of those days are not rewarding but if we press on, continually training our children in the right ways and taking the time to explain calmly what we expect and using discipline appropriately to shape their character — our homes will have more peace and our nation at large will have more peace.

  • Ashley Thaba is a life-coach, team-building facilitator and motivational speaker