Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

I think I’ve figured out why most couples argue (or even fight) about how to raise their kids: it mostly comes down to discipline, and then generally down to “why” (does the child even need to be corrected?), “when” (timing is everything, and speed is of the essence here), “what” (dare we use the word…”punishment”?? *gasp*), and “how” (most child development experts seem to agree that appropriate punishment will relate as closely as possible to the offense and be stringent enough to encourage the child to quickly and permanently abandon the unacceptable behaviour)…

as a devout Christian and an active Latter-Day Saint, I believe there’s great worth in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which states within it that “…fathers…are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” this division of roles and responsibilities is quite significant, and I’ll come back to it in a bit…

first, providing necessities and protection is pretty straightforward; but what is “nurture”? the dictionary definition is “to care for and encourage the growth and development of.” if we confine ourselves to nurturing only physical growth and development, it sounds like all we mothers have to do is make sure our children are fed nutritiously, get sufficient sleep, and have their health and safety looked after; however, not only was that already delineated in the proclamation above as the role of FATHERS, but that approach to “nurture” makes kids sound like little plants, and as much value as plants have in the world, children have infinitely more, so “nurture” here must logically extend beyond basic physical needs (fathers’ primary responsibility) into growth and development of intellect, emotion, spirit, and character…

second, why would WOMEN be primarily responsible for nurturing their children? personally, I think the Lord intentionally designed women to be relationship-oriented, and He knows that way we’ll generally tend to approach child-rearing from the long-term perspective of instilling values and developing character; most men — typically task-oriented (this is NOT a bad thing) — focus mainly on two activities: providing for the child’s temporal needs (food, clothing, shelter, safety — all of which is exactly what he SHOULD be doing as a father), and being a buddy (HELLO!! children will have playmates in their peer group; they need YOU to be a PARENT, Dad!!)…

men in general seem to equate discipline and punishment, and as such both are things to be avoided at all costs except in the most dire circumstances… however, discipline and punishment are NOT synonymns: punishment is a penalty for an offense; discipline is the ability to constrain behaviour to set parameters, and the ultimate goal of any discipline should be to teach SELF-discipline, or the ability to constrain one’s own behaviour to set parameters… punishment is only necessary when discipline is NOT present, or in other words when behaviour has strayed OUTSIDE set parameters…

all of this being said, I think the main reason couples argue about children and discipline is this: men generally seem to labour under the gross misapprehension that their values and characters somehow naturally evolved w/o any training, coaxing, encouragement, instruction, or otherwise direct involvement from their parents (more specifically, their mothers), so w/o any real appreciation for the work their own mothers did to mould their characters (and frankly our society does nothing to encourage recognition, let alone appreciation, of the role of mothers, so men can’t be entirely faulted for this glaring oversight), men think that children should just be left to their own devices and they’ll develop character and values on their own… ?!?!?!?!?

let me ask you, have you ever seen men when they live alone w/o any significant female influence? military quarters, frat houses, dorm rooms, etc. — their standards (of behaviour, of cleanliness, etc.) are generally varying degrees BELOW what’s acceptable in decent society… men are naturally suited to the hard (and often dangerous) work of discovering, inventing, exploring, providing, etc., and it’s VERY important that fathers model those physical and intellectual disciplines (HEY, you didn’t know you had it in ya, huh? 😉 ) for their children (and in particular their sons) to emulate; but by our very nature we women are typically drawn to things and people that are gentle, soft, kind, courteous, comfortable, safe, etc. — disciplines that include not only physical and intellectual but also emotional and spiritual, and that make life more enjoyable and less harsh (and for Christians, hold the promise of salvation and eternal glory)…

discipline is NOT a dirty word; it’s the heart of everything that makes life tolerable — even pleasant — including art, music, literature, etc… its simplest definition is “adherence to set parameters,” and those parameters can and should be determined by the person/people who have authority over a certain domain or stewardship (e.g., parents having stewardship over rearing their children); the problem arises in deciding what those parameters should be and why, but if we look at the LDS proclamation’s clearly-defined roles for fathers (providing necessities of life and protection for their families) and mothers (nurturing their children, which we’ve defined as the supervision of growth and development of intellect, emotion, spirit, and character), a father should respect the mother’s divinely appointed role in shaping their children’s characters and actively support her in that endeavour, even (or maybe more especially) if his relative lack of understanding makes him see it as unnecessary or unimportant…  to give an example from the business world that most folks will understand, the father is the CEO of the home, and the mother is the COO (chief operating officer):  the COO should respect the CEO’s role as presiding officer and make sure that operations are in line w/the overall direction and objectives for the company, and the CEO should respect the role of the COO and not seek to dictate HOW operations should be conducted (operational details and logistics may very well be outside the scope of the CEO’s understanding, which is why he has a COO in the first place)…

Advertisements