This hurts me more than you...

image (While I think that this goes without saying, I will point out that when I am referring to discipline, I am referring to logical, proportional, and constructive discipline. Abusive actions are exactly that, no matter what terms you try to couch them in, and have no place in society.) We have all been in the store and seen the outburst. Some child is throwing a tantrum or being downright rude to their parents. The parent just sits there and says nothing or seems to respond very meekly. Even if we don't say it aloud, most of us judge that parent in our minds as weak and unable to establish the proper family roles. Well, I'm here to tell you're probably right. However, I say that not in harsh judgement to those parents, but in sympathy for their thoughts.

Why are so many of us frightened of disciplining our children? No, this is not some diatribe about political correctness run amok or some perfect parent looking down his nose at others. As I have mentioned before, I still do not consider myself a "father," but instead a "father-in-training." I only have one child, and, no, his behavior isn't perfect. Obviously, I have no great standing from which to judge others. What I do have are experiences and the ability to empathize with different situations. That doesn't mean that I don't think that they shouldn't change, but I at least know why they started. I love my son more than anything. Everything that I do at all times of the day is for him. I know that is typical of parents. It is part of our biology. Unfortunately, that has created a situation in modern society where we are afraid to discipline our children.

The problem goes something like this: today's society is so fast-paced that every moment of our day is precious. Any disruption of the daily routine can bring about a string of problems that adds to our stress and we often do not have the time or means to deal with that extra stress. Having to deal with a child's misbehavior is one of those disruptions. For example, my wife and I are very strict with how much and how often our son is allowed to play video games. Because of this, he values that video game time greatly. If he misbehaves in a way that calls for it, we take that video game time away from him. When that happens, it can create a disruption in our routine in which we must make certain that he does not violate that punishment and that he has things to do to fill in that time (yes, that includes outside play and reading, which he already does a lot of). This prevents me from being able to focus on other things that I need to do that day and it is a ripple effect. In the end, I think the discipline can cause more difficulty for me than it can for my son. There is also the fact that, no matter what we tell them, every parent cares if their child is angry at them. As adults, we can distinguish between liking and loving someone. Children can't. So when a child is angry at you and yells that they don't love you, they really mean that they don't like you at the moment...but that knowledge doesn't make it hurt any less. I am very fortunate that I haven't run into this with my son, but I dread the day when it might happen.

The solution? Well, some parents end up using the solution that you see in the store. When disciplining their child is more of a punishment to the parent, they simply don't discipline the child. While some of us may see the disruptive child as a horrible disruption, it is less of a disruption to that parent than the discipline might be. It is a short-term solution to the problem that the short-term. The real solution is one that is hard to accept. If the discipline of the child is more of a punishment for the parent, the parent just needs to accept that punishment. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. You are going to have to accept the difficulties. We all say that we would die for our children. What we need to do is show that we will stress for them. The discipline will make your life difficult for a while, but the first time that you see your child make the right decision on their own, it is worth it. If you are upset by your child's reaction to your discipline, go to their room after they are asleep, kiss their forehead, and tell them that you love them. They won't hear it, but you will. Trust me, it helps. Make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. It's hard, but it's worth it.

Be logical and proportional in your discipline, but discipline your child. Remember when your parents said "This hurts me more than it does you?" They were right. Thank them for it.