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Can Family Discipline Keep Your Family Together?

One thing that I have learn while being the father of twelve children and working with families for more than ten years is that to create and maintain family discipline is no picnic! It's time consuming, it drains your strength, and there is very little immediate positive feed back. (My children have NEVER said to me, "Thanks Dad for grounding me because I didn't study for my history test and flunked it.")

These are the obvious reasons why parents don't enforce family discipline. However there is also a more subtle reason; parents are afraid that strong family discipline will ruin their relationship with their children. They mistakenly feel that to put limits on their children's actions will cause that their children will grow up to hate them and that they will also pull away from the other family members. They therefore don't enforce rules and hope that the love that they have for their children will keep the family together.

This, however, is a TERRIBLE mistake because family discipline actually enhances family relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, and between the siblings. Here are some of the ways that it helps:

A disciplined family have set meal times. 

A proper meal at the table is usually more nutritious and healthy than "fast foods" eaten on the go, in front of the TV or in front of the computer screen. When you don't eat well you become crabby, quick tempered and irritable which are obviously not the emotions that make for good relationships. When our physical needs are met then we are more sociable, more accepting, and less critical. These are the emotional traits needed to build relationships.

A disciplined family eats together. 

Family meals help the family to bond and to connect with one and other.

And to quote Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietician writing on the website sparkpeople.com "Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all."

Members of disciplined families don't wait to do homework, chores, and obligations at the last minute. 

A positive outcome of this is that there is little stress in such a house. When we wait for the last minute to do what we have to do we are understandably very stressed and this is big strain on relationships.

Another reason that doing chores in a structured systematic way enhances family relationships is that it frees time to be together. 

To do chores in a sloppy way causes that there really is NO time for family members to communicate with each other. Everyone is just too busy running around in circles completing their obligations. However when everyone takes care of their duties in a structured way, there is "leftover"time to just sit around with other family members and bond.

A structured household helps to develop self control.

Self control is needed to "drop what you are doing" in order to do your chore and to complete that chore no matter how much you want to do something else.

Self control is the foundation of good relationships!

Think about the truth of this formula: good relationships are a function of good communication (no communication means no relationship) which is a function of good listening skills (when no one listens there is no communication) which is a function of self control.

Why is this so?

Two important elements of good listening skills are (1) To listen patiently to what the other person is saying and not to rush him to finish. And (2) not to interrupt the speaker. When you keep to these rules you will open up the communication path which in turn builds relationships. However, this is easier said than done. It takes tremendous self control to wait patiently until the end of a story that you find boring or not to interrupt a speaker when you have something to add. People, however, who grow up in a disciplined home, are already trained in this trait.

Routine makes a person feel secure. 

If you don't have to guess when the next meal is or when you'll be able to speak or see your parents then you will have an internal calmness and secure feeling. A person who feels insecure goes into relationships in order to fill his needs he is very controlling and it self centered. However, a secure person has a relationship that all gain; he gives and takes and the she gives and takes. Such a healthy relationship is long lasting.

In short, it's not always easy to create and maintain family discipline, especially if everyone is used to doing as they please.

To quote Dr. Noel Swanson in his wonderful book "Good Child Guide", "Life will probably get worse at first. Unless you are prepared for it, you may think that the new system is not working. Since things seem to be getting worse rather than better, you give up. Bad decision. You have to stick with this until you get over the hump."

Stick with it and you will see that the returns are surely worth the effort.


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