Comment Answers

In the comments of previous post, I was asked a number of questions. Andrea had mentioned in her blog earlier in the week that we were dealing with a flu. After getting home from work, I ate and promptly went to bed for over 2 hours. After that, Andrea and i had a chance to catch up on the day and while doing that we took a few minutes to discuss those questions. Andrea responded in her own comment. I think the answers to those questions fit with the who discussion we’ve been having. So, I decided to answer them here in a post. the first question is:

Will you further elaborate on how discipline is handled at your house? – Carrie K.

In a way, this is a difficult question to answer without using extensive examples. However, what I believe is central to our discipline methodology is that we expect (not insist or demand) our kids to be responsible. That doesn’t mean that we expect the same degree wisdom and maturity in a 5 yo that we do in an 18 yo. With the older 3 (13-18), what that translates into is that at those times they have had a moment or 2 of irresponsibility that one of us will sit down with them and discuss how the issue will be corrected. Quite often, the onus has been on them to find a solution which we agree will work (or is worth trying).

At an early age, we allowed (and wanted) them to make choices. From the time they were 2 or younger, they have all picked the clothes they wear for the day. Did each go through a period where they were less that coordinated? Yes. But, the few moments of embarassment we might have endured for their sake has paid off.

Secondly, we expect (again, not insist or demand) that they will be obedient. There is room for them to discuss with us and decide what it is that they are going to do or not do. But once the decision has been made, I fully expect that whatever has been decided, will be carried out. Barring extraordinary circumstances (which do occur), I would be shocked if they didn’t.

Emma is 5 and we are already discussing (as one person to another) things with her. At her age, we are more interested in providing her the opportunity to see the situation from a third person perspective. As she grows and matures, the discussions will become like the ones we currently have with the older kids. But what enables us to have those conversations is the belief that she is capable of being, wants to be and will be responsible and obedient.

BUT are you saying (I don’t think you are, but am interested in clarification) that you *never* discipline your children for disobedience, that you always give them mercy? – Gem

One of the things I’ve been trying to accomplish has been the disassociation of the word discipline with things that are essentially punishment. To discipline is to train or teach. And yes, at the rare times when they were consciously being disobedient, you can count on the fact that there was discipline involved. But, it would be an instruction sort of discipline. I would be dishonest if I told you that I had never punished my kids. But I don’t consider punishment to be discipline.

In the story I related where Emma said “I promise”, she was not being disobedient to us. We had never told her not to do that. But when I did tell her and explain what she was doing, she did stop. That’s an example where discipline was carried out while being very conscious to gentle, merciful, patience, etc.

Do I occasionally take away privileges (eg. the internet)? Yes, I do. But only in situations where they are not being responsible with whatever is being taken away. When we can get things straightened around so that I’m comfortable that you are going to be responsible with it, you can have it back. But, I don’t consider that punishment. It’s important that they learn that freedom and responsibility are intertwined.

Author: Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.

12 thoughts on “Comment Answers”

  1. “When we can get things straightened around so that I’m comfortable that you are going to be responsible with it, you can have it back.”

    Sounds very familiar.

    BTW, it is obvious in real life that Ron and Andrea have a great relationship with their teens, and I believe that is key to Scriptural parenting.

  2. I wonder if people seem hellbent on their role as perceived controllers of their kids ( we foster self control here. Any other is false and leads to kids going wild once loose so to speak) and if they are really honest their kids are never that wayward, for want of a better word, that they need all this control and punishment is vastly over used? I feel like some of the Christian community are control freaks of the highest order. Not all are like this obviously.The term disobedience is only used in our house to describe our dog – not the kids. I am not bringing up a set of robots who have to obey my every command without question but that is the feeling I get from some blogs. I do not think I am the oracle on all matters. I have a good relationship with my teenagers of which I have 4 now and they are never doing anything I would even think a punishment – if I punished which I don’t- was necessary. I don’t believe my kids are unique. I feel some have made parenting sound very heavy and grim. Maybe they need to lightnen up and enjoy their kids for who they are instead of how they think they should be?

  3. that sounds very similar to my own approach. For example, when my daughter was about 6 or 7 I would let her go around to friends in the neighbourhood after school. she has a watch and can tell time so we’d agree a time when she would come home. One of the first times, she came back much later than agreed. I explained why I needed to know where she was going and what time she was coming home and why it was a problem to not come home at the agreed time (or go somewhere else). I then said that she couldn’t go see her friends in the neighbourhood for the next week because I couldn’t trust her to do those things. After that we tried it again and timekeeping has never been a problem since.

    while some might say that I ‘grounded’ her as a ‘punishment’, that is not the whole truth. The consequences were directly related to the issue I was trying to teach her — responsibility and thoughtfulness of others. It was a learning discipline.

    I have difficulty with parents who talk about certain things as privileges that their children have which can then be taken away as punishment for things. There is no clear link between the ‘punishment’ and the ‘crime’. Taking away access to the internet until someone learns to use the internet responsibly is a different thing from taking away access to the internet as a punishment for doing something else you didn’t want them to do (or not doing something you did want them to do).

  4. disobedience is only used in our house to describe our dog…

    This is the heart of the issue for us. You train a dog or cat or horse, etc. Children are not pets to be trained. To attempt to do so is to belittle the intellect of your own child.

  5. I can see that what you’re describing is what the Bible teaches – consequences come from our actions. Like having Emma clean up when she drew on the door.

    We had an instance like that at our house over the computer. The kids were constantly fighting with each other over whose turn it was to be on the computer, yelling if a sibling asked them a question and interrupted their game, stuff like that. Kevin and I talked to them and explained that people are to be loved and respected more than things and that when they treated each other in this way they were showing more love and respect for the computer than for their brothers and sister. All computer privileges were taken away until they were able to play together and relate to each other in a loving, respectful manner. They were then given their computer privileges back and so far so good. I expect things may get difficult again, but I know now that this approach works and won’t hesitate to use it.

    I agree that the word “discipline” has become intertwined with punishment. We have tried to get away from the idea of punishment as much as possible, though we don’t alway succeed. We have learned so much in the 9 years since we became parents and in some ways I wish there was a “do over” button.

  6. Carrie, you noted that the word “discipline” has become intertwined with punishment.

    How much more effective we parents might be if the word “discipline” were better intertwined with the word “disciple.”

  7. “How much more effective we parents might be if the word “discipline” were better intertwined with the word “disciple.”

    Amen!

    One of the things that I think causes such confusion and miscommunication is when people read “discipline” and think “punishment.” Or read “discipline” and think “spanking.” Or really, switch out words like these without thinking through the implications. . .

  8. I do understand the ideas here — and really, I’m trying to find the way to make them work in our home. I guess I’m still a little too Ezzo brainwashed — we do treat many things as priviledges (tv, internet, playing with toys, etc) that can be removed if the situation warrants. The comment that disobedience is only a term used for the dog, that one is a little offensive to me. While I do want my children to learn the whys and to think for themselves, there is a certain line, certain respect, just certain things that are non-negotiable. Obedience to parents is one of those. I don’t THINK it’s because I’m totally controlling, but this is an area of self-examination and prayer for me. I do know that I have HORRIBLE self-control so it’s an strugle for me to teach it to my kids. For instance, it’s 12:01, I should be in bed so I can be alert and awake in the morning and yet I’m up watching Jay Leno and typing incoherent comments on blogs. Sigh. Have I got some work to do on ME before I even get started on the kids!!!!

  9. Gem, I was reading in a book last night that parenting is like “Show-and-Tell”. And don’t feel alone, we have all been there.

  10. Sorry if I sounded offensive with my statement “The term disobedience is only used in our house to describe our dog – not the kids.” However to clarify -I live in the U.K and the term “disobedience” is very Victorian and old fashioned here and is generally used in terms of animals behaving not anyone else. Our description for the kids of “disobedience” would be bad behaviour or playing up. In the same way I do not expect obedience but I do expect my kids to understand right from wrong and act accordingly but at the same time I do not expect that I am always right in what this is. That is what we discuss. I agree we have to work on ourselves first lol. Don’t I know it.

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