Tuesday, April 23, 2013

(Self) Discipline ≠ (Self) Punishment

I was out planting flowers and something "hit" me...When we talk of having "self discipline" what do we mean?

Online dictionary defines it:
correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement

Online dictionary says synonyms for it are:
continence, restraint, self-command, self-containmentself-control, self-discipline, self-government, self-mastery, self-possession, self-restraint, willpower

This is interesting when you consider the popular idea among parents is that "discipline" is punishment that is aimed at breaking your child's will.


Something's wrong somewhere, don't you think?

If discipline is punishment then self discipline would be punishing yourself. Right? But, that doesn't work. That doesn't make sense because we know that when you practice self discipline that your life is the opposite of punished...because exercising self-discipline brings rewards.

Self discipline is that stuff you need to have to be on a diet, right? But, while restraining yourself from over indulging in fatty foods may be hard...it isn't punishment nor is it "painful" but it yields a reward...of a smaller waistline. Right?

Self discipline is what you need to have to not stay up too late when you have to get up in the morning. It may be hard to walk away from facebook or your blog or to turn off that favorite TV program and go to bed when you really wanna stay up, but, in the morning, you're rewarded by being not overly tired...or grouchy... 

Self discipline is what you need when you are out at a store and you really need to watch your spending. It may be hard to not buy those things that you see that you realllllly want...but...at the end of the month there is more $ in your bank account for bills and groceries and less to fight about with your spouse and more money in savings for an unexpected problem like new tires or whatever! Right!

Self-discipline is what one needs to learn any new skill that takes practice. It may be hard to continue trying and trying when you keep failing. With some new tasks the learning can be really brutal (like gymnastics or figure skating or the studying required when becoming a doctor). It may seem overwhelming at times to learn but if you persevere you have the joy of learning that new skill to the point it can become even 2nd nature!

Self discipline at the time sucks, doesn't it? You really want to eat that big piece of chocolate cake...or scroll thru your newsfeed just one more time...or buy that purse you don't need! It's hard and you almost resent not giving in to what you want! But! The more you do it the easier it comes and then! You get rewarded!

Hebrews 12:11

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

So, as parents who desire to parent as our heavenly Father does...how can we teach our children...
to be able to self-correct or regulate of themself for the sake of improvement
and to have power over their wills?

Can children learn all these things if parents always...
command them
contain them
control them
punish them
boss them
rule over them
restrain them
never let them make any choices
and punish them for exercising their wills?

No. They can't.

Children can't learn self-discipline as long as parents mistakenly believe that the definition of "discipline" is punishment.

You reap what you sow, right? You want to grow children who have the fruit of self-discipline you must discipline them as God does. If you want children who are able to "self correct or regulate themselves for the sake of improvement and have will power" you must sow seeds by reasoning and correcting. You plant seeds of reason and correction and your child will grow to be able to reason and self correct. 

You cannot do that with punishment or pain. 

God IS love. 
Perfect love casts out fear. 
God's discipline leads to life and reward. 
God's discipline leads to the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

If you want to parent as God does your "discipline" likewise should not involve fear and should lead to life and reward for your child.

If your child is afraid and your discipline leads to pain and punishment...you are not doing what you see your Father doing...and it will lead only to death...

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