Discipline (Sins of the father)

I think I’m on a writing spree I might not actually sleep at all tonight.

Post and some materials depicted from the book.

For this post, I’d be writing more towards discipline in a family, and some causes and factors that result in the behavior of each individuals. It is a continuation from the previous post, and the reason I chose to blog about this chapter is because I felt that the essential points of this chapter would give clarity to how our parents play significant roles in our making.

The causes of unself-disciplined children, as addressed by M. Scott, is not the homes or environment of these homes but the lack of parental discipline. Undisciplined children, despite average or better intelligence, tend to have poor grades simply because they do not work. There is a substantial amount of these adolescents, those who classes (like me) or skip school entirely on the whim of the moment. But more specifically addressed are those who are frequently and severely punished throughout their childhood – slapped, punched, kicked, beaten and whipped by their parents for even minor infractions. In a way it is a form of discipline taken by their parents, but this discipline is meaningless. Because this is undisciplined discipline.

Of the few reasons, one of the reasons that this is meaningless is because the parents themselves are unself-disciplined, and therefore they serve as undisciplined role models for their children. These are the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ parents. They may fight in front of their children without restraint, dignity or rationality. They may frequently get drunk. They may be slovenly. They may make promises they don’t keep. Their own lives are frequently and obviously in disorder and disarray, and their attempts to order the lives of their children seem to therefore make little sense to the children. If father beats up mother regularly, what sense does it make to a boy when his mother beats him up because he beats up his sister? Does it make sense when he’s told that he must learn to control his temper? Since we do not have the benefit of comparison when we are young our parents are godlike figures to our childish eyes. When parents do things in a certain way, it seems to the young child the way to do them, the way they should be done. If a child sees his parents day in and day out behaving with self-discipline, restraint, dignity and a capacity to order their own lives, then the child will come to feel in the deepest fibers of his being that this is the way to live. If a child sees his parents day in and out living without such traits then he would come in the deepest fibers of being to believe that that is the way to live.

Even more important than role modeling is love, for even in chaotic and disordered homes genuine love is occasionally present, and from such homes may come self disciplined children. And not infrequently parents who are professional people – doctors, lawyers, club women and philanthropists – who lead lives of strict orderliness and decorum but yet lack love, send children into the world who are as undisciplined and destructive and disorganized as any child from an impoverished and chaotic home.

As said by M. Scott, ultimately love is everything. The mystery of love is one that he has examined in some portions of the book, portions where I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. I may take the time to blog a bit about it, but for now I am going to add a bit on love, for the sake of coherency, because it is in a way related to discipline at this point.

When we love something it is of value to us, and when something is of value to us we spend time with it, time enjoying it and time taking care of it. Observe a teenager in love with his car and note the time he will spend admiring it, polishing it, repairing it, tuning it. Or an older person with a beloved rose garden, and the time spent pruning and mulching and fertilizing and studying it. So when we love children; we spend time admiring them and caring for them. We give them our time.

Good discipline requires time. When we have no time to give to the children, or no time that we are willing to give to the children, we don’t even observe anything close enough to become aware of when their need for disciplinary assistance is expressed subtly.

If their need for discipline is so gross as to impinge upon our consciousness, we may still ignore the need on the grounds that it’s easier to let them have their own way – ‘I just don’t have the energy to deal with them today.’ Or, finally, if we are impelled into action by their misdeeds and irritation, we will impose discipline, often brutally, out of anger rather than deliberation, without examining the problem or even taking the time to consider which form of discipline is the most appropriate to that particular problem. This, usually, develops from youth. There are times when I too find myself in such cases and I just walk away from it and let it subside. What have been mentioned, and will be mention, would be the consequence if we allow such problems to continue and pay no attention to them.

The parents who devote time to their children even when it is not demanded by glaring misdeeds will perceive in them subtle needs for discipline, to which they will respond with gentle urging or reprimand or structure or praise, administered with thoughtfulness and care. They will observe how their children eat cake, how they study, when they tell subtle falsehoods, when they run away from problems rather than face them. They will take the time to make minor corrections and adjustments, listening to their children, responding to them, tightening a little here, loosening a little there, giving them little lectures, stories, hugs, kisses, admonishments and pats on the back.

So it is that the quality of discipline afforded by loving parents are far more superior to the discipline of unloving parents. But this is just a beginning. In taking the time to observe and to think about their needs, loving parents will frequently agonize over the decisions to be made, and will, in a very real sense, suffer along with their children. The children are not blind to this. I am not blind to this, really – as a child to my parents. We will perceive it when our parents are willing to suffer with us. ‘If my parents are willing to suffer with me, then suffering must not be so bad, and I should be willing to suffer with myself.’ This is the beginning of self-discipline.

The time and quality of the time that our parents devote to us indicate to us the degree to which we are valued by them. Some unloving parents, in an attempt to cover up their lack of caring, make frequent professions of love to their children, repetitively and mechanically telling them how much they are valued, without devoting any significant amount of quality time to them. As children before, we are never totally deceived by such hollow words. Consciously, we may cling to them, wanting to believe but unconsciously we know that the words of our parents do not match up to their deeds.

On the other hand, children who are truly loved, although in moments of pique may consciously feel or proclaim that they are being neglected, unconsciously they know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than any gold. For when children know that they are valued, when they truly feel valued in the deepest parts of themselves, then they feel valuable.

I am a result of loving parents and loving teachers. Honestly, my life, while full of failures and whatnot, has never truly affected me – only in moments of pique, as mentioned. My mother is the most self-disciplined woman I have ever known (I don’t really have time to get to know other woman anyway). Her love and self-discipline is beyond anything in this world and I will not be here, writing or thinking of such nonsense if not for her. My dad on the other hand, not as disciplined, but still very loving and disciplined enough.

The feeling of being valuable – ‘I am a valuable person’ is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline. It is a direct product of parental love. Such a conviction must be gained in childhood’ it is extremely difficult to acquire it during adulthood. Conversely, when children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, it is almost impossible for the vicissitudes of adulthood to destroy that spirit.

To my parents, if you do read this I’d just like to add the strength of my spirit is, quite unbreakable. You know that you are the reason for most of what I am right now.

This feeling of being valuable is a cornerstone of self-discipline because when one considers oneself valuable one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary. Self-discipline is self-caring. If we feel ourselves valuable, then we will feel our time to be valuable, and subsequently we will want to use it well. Most youths tend to grow in the absence of such presence of self-care and self-love, which is one of the reasons that nudged me towards the direction of psychiatry as well. If you could present this to people in it’s most sincere form, it would, in return, naturally, be presented onto others. And this will continually spread, and spread, and spread.

As a result of consistent parental love and caring throughout childhood, such fortunate children will enter adulthood not only with a deep internal sense of their own value, but also a deep internal sense of security. All children are terrified of abandonment, and with good reason. There are some parents, for instance, who in their desire to enforce discipline as easily and quickly as possible, will actually use the threat of abandonment, overtly or subtly, to achieve this end. ‘If you don’t do what I want you to do I won’t love you and you can go figure out for yourself what that means.’ It means abandonment, clearly, and death. Love is sacrificed in exchange for the need for control and domination over their children, and the reward is children who are excessively fearful of the future. So it is that these children, abandoned either psychologically or in actuality, enter adulthood lacking any deep sense that the world is a safe and protective place.

For children to develop the capacity to feel valued, appreciated and loved, it is necessary for them to have self disciplined role models, a sense of self-worth, and a degree of trust in the safety of their existence. These ‘possessions’ are ideally acquired through the self-discipline and consistent, genuine caring of their parents; they are the most precious gifts of themselves that mothers and fathers can bequeath. When these gifts have not been proffered by one’s parents, it is possible to acquire them from other sources, but it is often an uphill struggle, and often unsuccessful. But it is possible, and the best way is through psychotherapy.

Now, a highly irrelevant yet rather relevant point – get 2 children. The first are usually the most developed. The second becomes the semi-developed, because by then the first would have been rather well developed and thus the parents can afford to pay slightly lesser attention. The third, quite often, tend to be neglected a little. This is of course, just generative and highly mathematical.

There is a lot that I would like to blog about, so I might just try to blog 1-2 posts a day (posts in relation to the book)

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