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Saturday, December 28, 2013


Unconditional Love
Every mother and father will unequivocally agree that the most important thing parents can give their children is love. However an essential matter should be appropriately considered. Does this mean unconditional love? That is, just giving everything a child wants without any restraint or set of parameters to learn and follow?

Oftentimes, parents ask themselves this question. Do we need to discipline the children whom we dearly love? For most if not all of us, children are precious gifts from God. When a child is born to a family, this “bundle of joy” becomes the focus of total attention of both the parents and the entire family. 

More importantly however, parents have to realize and assume a new extremely critical role, an immense responsibility to bring up their child as a respectable and responsible individual. We have learned how many fathers and mothers have accepted with remorse their failure as good parents because of the unconditional love sans appropriate discipline they gave to their children.

Love Tempered with Discipline
Drawing courtesy of luckypuppyonline.com
Initially it is the home where a child starts to learn and pick up the basic precepts of family values, a learning process which is of paramount importance in paving a way for himself towards being a successful future and a productive member of society.

Starting from the early formative years of his life, every child needs to be disciplined where a child is taught about the rights and wrongs of life. The first and foremost fundamental guidance that a child is provided is to respect his parents and elders. Psychologists have affirmed that a child is extremely quick in picking up bad habits but is rather slow to opt for the good habits. It is for this reason that parents require an extraordinary patience to educate the child to distinguish what is right and what is wrong.

Parenting is one of the toughest and challenging responsibilities that confront parents to their child. Whether a parent needs to be strict toward his child in order to discipline him, the fact remains that the process of disciplining the child in his initial years will result to his benefit in the long run.

While it is true that parents have the responsibility to provide all the material needs of the children because of their love for them, it is necessary that they do an equally important responsibility in disciplining them, as an essence of love for them. Both love and discipline are equally essential forms of love for our children.  Disciplining our children should start at a very early age. While it is not correct to say that parents need to use corporal punishment as part of the discipline it should be considered that the absence of appropriate penalty for ignoring house rules would clearly mean that discipline cannot be enforced oftentimes.

 In so many cases, parents neither have the time nor the energy to discipline their children. Giving in to the demands of children and pampering them or bribing them even to do their own chores seems to be the order of the day. The fact that children cannot be obligated to participate in home functions by doing their own chores and contributing to the upkeep of the home says a lot about the way in which parents bring up their children. Undisciplined children seemed to be so used to a life of ease that they are not able to face occurrences even with little pressure against it. As an example, while it is the responsibility of the child to do his/her homework, parents must share an equal obligation to see to it that the child does the homework before playing computer games.

Photo courtesy of todaysparentsblog.com
There are many reasons why a parent becomes averse to discipline a child. Many psychologists opined that some parents may be reluctant to discipline their children because they want to avoid having conflict or because they don’t want to have their child to be indignant at them. Other parents may be unable or unwilling to devote time, perseverance and patience to the task of disciplining children. Many others may have unpleasant memories of being disciplined when they were children, the reason why parents may want to make things easier on their own children by having slack  rules and giving them more freedom. 

But the actuality is that discipline is not about creating conflict with your child and creating a hostile parent-child relationship. Discipline is not shouting and showing “temper tantrums” in anger to a child. Definitely, discipline is not physically beating or mentally abusing a child. When properly done, child discipline is never about controlling your child but most importantly about showing how to control the child’s own behavior. Discipline is not about penalizing a child for doing something bad or wrong but is about setting clear benchmarks and consequences for breaking rules so that the child learns how to discipline himself/herself when confronted with constraints in a real and harsh world.

A child who has been taught right from wrong and has a concrete sense of what is good and bad behavior will know when he/she has done something wrong.  A child will want to behave appropriately out of the aspiration to be a good member of the family and desirable citizen of society and never  because he/she fears punishment. As always, discipline of a child should start at home in order that the child would easily adapt to the rules and boundaries in the school and other sectors of the community. 

What many parents who are reluctant to discipline children may not understand is how damaging it can be for a child to fail to recognize parameters and lack boundaries. Without discipline, children will be deficient in the essential skills in life to overcome problems of their own.  Even though discipline is deemed difficult at first, it always works well in teaching children to live within certain codes and respecting them. Just as adults live by the laws of the land, children need to live by certain values and conform to certain behaviors.

Disciplining children is applying a certain amount of pressure on them, the purpose of which is not to make life miserable for them but rather to mold or cast them to fit and be acceptable to society. When they are trained this way, children find it easier to adapt to pressure and live within rules and norms of a school or college or home or later on in employment life. Parental indulgence, lack of guidance and looking the other way when the child does what is wrong always encourage wrong behaviors in the child.

Psychologists have likewise confirmed that children without discipline find it difficult to be in control of their emotions and behavior even in community life because they have never been trained to handle themselves and their emotion adequately.

Many parents, mostly the rich and powerful families came only to realize the essence of discipline in raising their children until it was too late, upon seeing of what had become of them as letdowns in their personal and professional life.

In the Philippines, we have read about the infamous case of the Delta Gang, members of which came from affluent families and who were sentenced to death for the rape of beauty queen and actress Maggie de la Riva. Similar criminal incidents involving “spoiled brats”, products of upbringing without discipline are Boy Vergel,  Arturo “Boy Golden” Porcuna, Eddie Fernandez, Bingbong Crisologo and Grepor Belgica, among many others.

Former Palawan City Mayor Edward Hagedorn once led a “terror” teenage gang in Manila’s “University belt” until his father finally put down his foot and sent him to faraway Palawan to tend to the family’s farm. The “harsh” discipline of Hagedorn’s father softened Edward’s violent ways. History will tell that Edward Hagedorn turned Puerto Princesa city from a “sleepy” place to a booming economic center in the country, making Palawan known in the national business map.     

In part 2, the author details his own upbringing. Watch out for it tomorrow.

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