Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why Do We Discipline?

Recently, my mom shared with me a point recently made in a Relief Society lesson. The teacher shared a personal experience from when she was a young mother in a Relief Society class:

The class was being taught be a woman somewhat intimidating to this sister. The teacher asked the class "Why do we discipline children?" When no one offered an answer, she raised her hand and answered, "So they'll be good." The teacher responded, "No. You're wrong. It is to teach them to repent." While the answer was somewhat abrasive, it was a lesson she was grateful to learn as a young mother.The point was made, that the error in approaching discipline with an attitude of teaching children to "be good", is that it can ruin their relationship with God. While in Primary, it is easy for children to feel loved as a child of God. But, by the time they reach Young Men or Young Women they have already labeled themselves as "good" or "bad" and might not believe that they are worthy of being loved by God.  Alternatively, if they are disciplined with the intent to teach them to repent, they can grow with the understanding that they are a child of God- who loves them always- and that they need to repent when they do something bad. Their behavior does not become confused with their identity.

I found this story very enlightening, and have been reviewing my own approach in disciplining my children and whether I am teaching them the right message. Bonnie D. Parkin said, "As you encircle your children with your love, they will catch glimpses of [the Savior's] love." It is humbling to think that the relationship we have with our children is a foundation for the relationship they have with Christ.

p.s. I was reminded me of a Ensign article I saved from 2006 entitled, "Let's Try Again!". That phrase is a great way to end a discussion with a child.

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