Discipline…the hard truth!

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discipline in the blended family

What do you think of when I say “discipline”? A lot of people automatically think about kids behaving badly. The definition of discipline is–the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

So what does that mean?… Anyone?… Bueller?

I’ll tell you what it means to me. It means that I use whatever means necessary to make sure that my kids are safe and understand that the things they do are not always safe and that when an adult (me) says “Stop!” they need to stop…immediately. If they don’t, then they could get hurt. So, when my daughter is misbehaving, and I tell her to sit down on the couch so we can talk, and then she doesn’t…well…now what? 

Do I whip off my belt and beat her butt? Do I say “OK, whenever you are ready to listen, we can talk…in the meantime, go ahead and do whatever you want.” Do I take away her phone or computer or prevent her from attending a shopping date? 

All of those are things that people do and all of those things may or may not work. It totally depends on the relationship you have with your kids. When my daughter tells me “NO!” I look her in the eyes and tell her that if she doesn’t do what I tell her to do, then she will get her butt spanked. I give her 3 chances, then I follow through. I don’t do it when I’m angry, although I have in the past…I’m not perfect…but now, I consciously do the disciplining. I try to start with “sit down so we can address this behavior”…”NO!”…if you don’t do what I tell you to do, I will spank you, now sit down…”NO!”…you can either sit down and talk with me or you can get spanked…”NO!”…last time, are you going to sit down? “NO!”…and then I spank her. I don’t do it because I like it…I hate, no, HATE, it. But she needs to learn that she can trust me when I tell her that when I say something will happen if she doesn’t listen to me, then it happens. 

This is not an everyday occurrence, in fact, it’s very rare that I have to resort to this. Some parents may not ever have to do this or may not believe in spanking, that it’s child abuse. I’m not here to try to convince you that you need to spank your child for them to be an upstanding citizen. I’m here to tell you that there are many different options for disciplining your child and that spanking is NOT the same as “hitting”. Spanking is open hand and on the butt…hitting can be closed or open hand, but is usually on the body or head. My mother used to spank me and my siblings…a lot more than I have spanked my kids, but she never did it because she wanted to. She did it to instill fear into us…so that we wouldn’t do whatever prompted the spanking again. Did I fear my mother? Not at all…not even a little bit…Did I fear doing things that would result in a spanking??? HELL YES!!!

My Dad didn’t believe in spanking…he did other things to discipline us. He took away our time by grounding us, wouldn’t allow us to do something we wanted to do, like go to a party or a friend’s house, or made us write papers…yes, we had to write a report on alcoholism because we decided to go out and drink beer with some friends and then decided to drive home. The drinking didn’t bother him nearly as much as the driving afterwards did. 

Now, that’s all well and good for the kids, but what about yourself? What do you do to encourage discipline in yourself? It’s a lot harder to punish yourself…or is it? A lot of people, me included, tend to punish themselves because they failed in something. I look back on my life and think about things that I could have done better, and blame myself for things that I have no control over. Self discipline is not blaming yourself or beating yourself up because you didn’t make that promotion or because you missed that goal. Self discipline is a special kind of something…it is delayed gratification. Say you want to take your family on a trip to Disneyland. You don’t have the cash for it, but you do have the credit available to take a loan out or use a credit card. But why not save up for it? Set a goal of saving X amount of dollars a month until you reach enough for the trip, which includes travel, stay and souvenirs. The “punishment” part is waiting to go. There are a lot of books and classes available to help with that, so I’m not going to spend anymore time on it. The main thing I wanted to talk about today was the act of disciplining your kids…you don’t have to spank if you don’t believe in that, but you DO have to discipline them, for their sake. Undisciplined kids don’t know when to recognize danger and don’t know when to stop. Teach them how to do that through discipline and they will love you for it for as long as they live.

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Travis Hall

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