Honoring Your Children With Hope, Faith, Love and Discipline

If you have ever been hugged by your child and told, “I love you,” then you know what it means to be honored and respected by those you brought into this world.
Love is the universal element in the world that transcends all others. To me, love is by far the most powerful force in life. It overwhelms hate, but to keep a 21st century family grounded discipline and prayer are not far behind.
As a father, I have received some nice hugs and kind words. However I have also been told to mind my own business and the vicious “I hate you!”
Such are the soap operas of raising children. Life is a see-saw swinging in the wind — or depending on the mood of your family members. Most likely your sanity depends on only three things:
1. Your self confidence/self esteem so you can do the right thing when your child, your spouse and your dog/cat are criticizing your disciplinary choice. Everyone makes mistakes, and I have made hundreds more than I can count. As the parent, your decision on discipline is the bottom line after you have weighed the evidence. Trust your brain, but listen to your heart when a loved one is in the disciplinary crosshairs. You must be strong enough to discipline with love from a calm mindset. And you must not be swayed by wanting your child to love you after you impose a harsh punishment.
2. Your spouse/significant other is key to keeping any home from becoming a house of domestic violence (too much discipline) — or a house of ill repute (too much misbehavior). Mothers, in particular, are often more loving and forgiving. Many days, whether by accident or on purpose, mom sets the tone for everyone in the home.
While some dads may take the quick route of a beating to cure a child’s misbehavior, a loving mother asks the husband to forgive minor childhood miscues.
It’s a no-win, parenting situation that nearly every child will take advantage of by: Playing one parent against the other; appealing to the softer parent for sympathy, blaming others and more.
Common sense can be helpful here. But beware: Raising a healthy, happy child challenges geniuses and billionaires as much as the unemployed. Couples must work together to set guidelines, starting with unconditional love and acceptance of your child. They may suffer from AIDS or lose a limb or become an alcoholic in the future, but they will always be your child.
3. Know that love is eternal, and it is OK to love your child and still take their phone, internet privileges, car keys away. Each child is unique. Each situation is unique, and each plate of hot, fried discipline will also be unique to encourage a particular result. Life isn’t fair. Don’t try to be fair or forgiving when discipline is needed.
Parents need to agree on the harsher (apparently meaner) punishment — say four weeks grounded and doing dishes every night with probation for three months afterward — as opposed to the softer (more apparently loving) punishment one parent may prefer, like three days of dishes, mowing the grass and laundry so mom can relax.
One punishment tells the child: This all blows over in three days, and then I can get back to MY life. The other punishment states clearly the child’s life is altered for a month, won’t be fun because they screwed up.
President Theodore Roosevelt was known for saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” This political rhetoric also applies, figuratively, to every family. Every family must set simple, yet profound, rules to live by.
However, even with a tough-love solution implemented, parents — including myself — have a large tendency to believe their child has learned his/her lesson when that child is simply manipulating parents for sympathy.
And a reduced sentence, of course.
Where do you want to fit into this parenting equation? Every strategy must be age-appropriate and decided upon after calm processing. More on this topic in our next installment of Real World Parenting.

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