The Democracy Of A Family Part 3

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For Part 2 of this topic click here

The democratic style of parenting, and I’m not talking about the political party, is not sound parenting. Some things are not up for a vote or discussion. In no way am I advocating abuse or unreasonable behavior we all know everything can become extreme. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Tonight I am fixing lasagna for dinner. I didn’t consult anyone, I am in charge of that area of our household and so I made a decision. Now, let’s say one of my kids gets upset and decides that tonight they don’t want to eat lasagna. That is totally fine with me. You don’t have to eat lasagna if you don’t want to but I am not making something else to eat. They can make a sandwich, eat leftovers whatever. There is no vote here. Many of you would say that is harsh but honestly, that is life. What do I teach when I coddle a whim and fix a different meal for each person? Yes, sometimes I will ask what everyone would like to eat but not often. I’ve been given a task and I do it well. I know what my family likes and what they don’t and I would never purposefully make something they didn’t like to eat. See it starts with these small, seemingly insignificant processes.

When a boss says that she needs something done and I don’t feel like doing it then if I’ve been trained in a democracy I will simply decide not to do it and let her know I don’t feel this is a task for me and require her to give me something else to do. If I do that often enough, I will get fired. If I get fired I will be the victim but only in my mind, because I was taught that people move for me, I don’t move for people. See no boundary was established and no sense of team playing was established because in a democracy when I don’t like something I not only vocally say so I also vote it out. Only that’s not real life is it?

We are doing a big disservice to our children by not teaching them that they have responsibilities that lie squarely on their shoulders and that one day they will have to rule their own life. My daughter Casey was recently invited to her boyfriend’s summer home with his family. She said that his mother complimented her on her upbringing. We might ask why this was a shock to his mother but I think we all know that manners are a much sought after commodity. She told Casey that she was a woman who was well-mannered and helpful and she didn’t see that very often these days. Casey had been nervous about going but her training served her well.

Casey laughed when I reminded her of all the times she was angry with me because I corrected her manners and made her clean up whether she “felt” like it or not. Casey used to say to me as a little girl, “I’m like Cinderella around here.” She was always a bit dramatic. She gave me a really hard time always questioning why she had to do things that her friends did not. Every single Saturday morning we got up early and did family chores. She hated it and voiced her complaints each time. We’d get all the chores done by noon and then spend the afternoon doing family things like swimming in the pool or going to the movies or shopping or whatever but we got our work out of the way first. It wasn’t up for a vote though. It was clearly established. Now years later she told me it was the best thing for her. She said it’s her best memory of family time and taught her about getting priorities out of the way, working together to get things done and then having your fun with nothing over your head.

Parents, don’t be afraid to set order. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt that those who order their lives are happier than those who live their lives in chaos. Those who see a monarchy for what it is, a set order of relationship and responsibility do better than those who are continually striving to overthrow the government of a house by a vote.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 5:07 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think you’ve stated the the true meaning of discipline. It’s not punishment but training people to be consistent, responsible and trustworthy.

  2. Yes, I’m not talking about punishment but honest to goodness training which we seem unwilling or unable to do.

  3. …Or too lazy.

    Discipline is as much for the parents as it is for the children. I learned to train my son by the way my folks worked with me. In fact, I use many of the same methods because they worked so well. As Proverbs says: “Discipline your son, why be a party to his death?”

    But I think it’s we who need it almost as much as our children

  4. You really think it’s lazy? Why do you think this?

    BTW! I love that you are instilling the values you parents gave you. We need a solid value system that we can hang onto in critical times.

  5. Laziness because the effort it takes to remain consistent in our society is pretty taxing. It’s much easier to just yell or sidestep the issue of true training.

    People accept that athletes must be disciplined, steady and faithful about their routine in order to win, but they teach us that kids don’t need the same. Discipline is about follow-through even when it’s inconvenient, socially unacceptable or just downright irritating. A parent who gives in is either intimidated by their child, reacting to past abuses in discipline or simply misguided as to what it really takes to raise a human being.

    Anyone who thinks that a person can bear fruit without plowing the field has trouble with the concept or is too lazy to do the work it takes to reap the harvest—either in the beginning or end of the growth. Straight rows mean we have to keep the goal in mind or we can get sidetracked.

    Pulling weeds in a wheat field might not be practical but a garden needs it. Our childrens’ hearts are gardens and need constant love through watering their spirits, feeding their souls and weeding.

    We teach by example.

  6. Well Jonny, when I read your comment I was like “Lazy” “what?”I guess my own conviction set in, I am the mother of a very strong willed 14 yr old and being consistent in discipline with him can sometimes wear me out, I even told him I have to go to my knees everyday and twice on Tuesdays (morning and night)(smile) and you are right sometimes it’s easier to ignore than deal with situations. I have been very consistent for I would say the last 6 months and I am reaping the benefits, it’s been a long process. I just have to stay positive:)


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