Discipline of children is hardly a safe topic these days. The debates about what is, and is not, OK are both widespread and passionate. Yet despite the tension about hot topics like spanking, there are still a set of rules that can be extremely helpful to all parents with all discipline strategies.
In this episode I discuss 5 specific rules of discipline that will help you improve how you correct your children. My goal is not to lecture or pontificate – indeed, most of these I still fail at. Instead, my goal is to help all of us refine what we do when our children misbehave. The biggest and most obvious result will be a change in ourselves.
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S02E33 5 Rules of Discipline
Saint Monica, also known as Monica of Hippo, is St. Augustine of Hippo’s mother. She was born in 331 A.D. in Tagaste, which is present-day Algeria.
When she was very young, she was married off to the Roman pagan Patricius, who shared his mother’s violent temper. Patricius’ mother lived with the couple and the duo’s temper flares proved to be a constant challenge to young Monica.
While Monica’s prayers and Christian deeds bothered Patricius, he is said to have respected her beliefs.
Three children were born to Monica and Patricius: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua – for a long time she was not allowed to even baptize them.
For years Monica prayed for her husband and mother-in-law, until finally, one year before Patricius’ death, she successfully converted them.
As time passed, Perpetua and Navigius entered the religious life, but unfortunately Augustine became lazy and uncouth. This greatly worried Monica, so when Patricius died, she sent the 17-year-old Augustine to Carthage for schooling.
After Augustine got his education and returned home, he shared his Manichaean views with Monica, who drove him from her table. Though it is not recorded how much time passed, Monica had a vision that convinced her to reconcile with her wayward son.
In frustration, Monica went to her bishop, who told her, “the child of those tears shall never perish.”
Inspired, Monica followed Augustine and eventually came upon St. Ambrose, who helped her convert Augustine to Christianity following his seventeen-year resistance.
Augustine was baptized and the pair were led to believe they should spread the Word of God to Africa, but shortly after, Monica passed away.
Augustine recorded the words she imparted upon him when she realized death was near. “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.”
The city of Santa Monica, California is named after Monica, as were the “weeping” springs outside the city.
St. Monica Prayer
I need your prayers.
You know exactly how I’m feeling because you once felt it yourself.
I’m hurting, hopeless, and in despair.
I desperately want my child to return to Christ in his Church but I can’t do it alone.
I need God’s help.
Please join me in begging the Lord’s powerful grace to flow into my child’s life.
Ask the Lord Jesus to soften his heart, prepare a path for his conversion, and activate the Holy Spirit in his life.
<Not discussing specific consequences, but will list some of ours>
<Introduce the hero: Hot Stove>
- Bright Lines
- What are your rules, really?
- Story: kids making noise normally vs when I’m on a phone call vs when I have a headache
- Is that noise a problem always, or only when you have a headache?
- Bright Lines define our responses as much as the childrens
- Story: Violet and getting dressed
- Obviously not everything can be pre-planned, but there’s a lot more that could be than most of us do.
- conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.
- We are amazingly inconsistent with our discipline
- Apply Bright Lines with Consistency
- Story: excused from dinner table
- Story: When do children HAVE to share?
- Story: telling Violet to go upstairs or Rose to do her homework, punishment for not following instructions.
- Imagine video taping yourself, or maybe do it for real
- Discipline the same way, at the same point, every time.
- Hot Stove wins all. Bright lines, consistency, and timing
- Especially when young, consequences need to be fast and connected to the event
- Story: Violet hits Poppy, I find out 15 min. Later – too late!
- Understand when kids don’t actually have control. Sometimes the best consequence is just to send to bed.
- Story: Rose is embarrassed by her mistake, no need to really double down on her punishment publicly. It crushes her.
- If you’re trying to intellectually engage them, make sure they are receptive.
- Story: feeling guilty in a confessional, reduced penance.
- Hot Stove doesn’t get mad
- I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever let your kids see you scared/loud (e.g. running into a road with cars), but you need to be in control
- Story: angry during mass
- Story: angry for disobedient
- ->Story angry for safety
- Once safety is assured, need to quickly return to peaceful point.
- <Magnificat Meditation Thurs Apr 5>
- We lie to ourselves about all of the above.
- Evaluate ourselves as a scientist.
- Spouses will help, but only after we agree on a set of rules. Otherwise will lead to fighting.
- When am I just choosing the convenient?
- Story: Sterling calling me out on Violet getting dressed rules
- Story: Sterling challenging me on how angry I get when not safety
- Story: Am I really aware of the state of Rose’s heart when I discipline too hard?
- If I’m not doing the plan, is it because it’s a bad logical sequence? E.g. the “consequence” takes a lot of work for me to do.
- Bright Lines
Everyone must choose of two pains: The pain of Discipline, or the Pain of Regret – Jim Rohn
Children learn more from what you are than what you teach – W.E.B. Dubois
The Sign of Great Parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of great parenting is the parent’s behavior. – Andy Smithson