Our puppy Biscuit did something she shouldn’t have done, and worse than that she got caught. She was disciplined by her Dad (I have nicknamed him the Sheriff) and she was full of remorse and regret. She has a habit of sitting down and giving you the pitiful face of regret, then tries to wiggle up to you all cute and remorseful working her cuteness back into your good graces. We have figured out this routine and have to work very hard not to fall for it; sometimes it is easier to ignore than others.
Discipline is hard. It means being consistent, fair, and sticking to the preset expectations. For parents discipline highlights the difference between being a parent and being their friend. Time will allow you to be their friend when they are older, what they need now is a parent. Your child needs you to teach them, guide them, discipline them when they need it so they learn the lesson and do not do it again. They need you to keep them safe which means teaching them through discipline how to do that for themselves.
Being the one who provides discipline can be hard. It means being direct, tough and consistent. It means worrying more about teaching them right from wrong than worrying about what they think or feel about you. Being the disciplinarian means you do not get time off, you have to correct them on the wrong behaviors every time not just when you feel like it. And it means thinking more about them than about yourself.
I am who I am because my parents and other family members had the wherewithal to provide discipline and safety during my childhood. They laugh me how to be safe no matter my environment and helped me build my own self discipline to help me develop a work ethic. It wasn’t always easy and it didn’t make them the cool parents on the block, it made us the smart teens later in life.
All too often I observe adults who fail to discipline their children and feel sorry for those kids. In a single moment the easy route was chosen and an opportunity to shape a future disappears. No one likes to be the heavy, and yet no one wants the one they love to come to harm. Next time you have that moment when you know the right thing to do, do it without thinking and set that small one you care about forward on the right path. Don’t let yours be the face that wear a face of regret.