A Generation Without Discipline

Last week a woman in the community called me over in a very serious voice. She is currently caring for a child because his mother isn’t in the area, and the boy is getting himself into lots of trouble. Recently he pushed down a classmate at school and damaged some of her teeth.

After walking over in a quiet serious voice she asked if I would christen the little boy.

I smiled and said first of all we don’t do that…..

but the truth is lack of baptism isn’t the boy’s problem

The problem is he doesn’t receive discipline

Many mothers in Saint Vincent are note able to give their older children day to day care since the fathers aren’t around. The mother then needs to work for money, as well as look after younger children, and care for the home. This means there isn’t energy or time to add structure for the older ones. It isn’t uncommon for family members or friends to care for children in the community for a brief period of time.

The issue is most of the time the only person who is able to discipline a child is the mother. The woman who cared for the child isn’t allowed to give him physical discipline (such as a spanking). Therefore, the child doesn’t respect anyone because he knows they cannot punish him. I do understand her concern about someone else disciplining her child, but the damage done to the boy by not being disciplined is greater.

The boy’s mother has forgotten a very important lesson.

Discipline is an act of Love

By discipline I don’t mean just something like spanking. It refers to having rules and standards for the child with clearly defined consequences. And those consequences are always followed up on. A basic form of punishment done consistently will develop an attitude of submission in the child.

Sadly, lack of discipline develops the exact opposite….

An attitude of stubborness.

This boy has a reputation in the community for being rude and disrespectful to almost everyone. He doesn’t listen to people because the boy knows nobody can do anything to him. If anybody gives him physical discipline (like a slap on the arm) his mother will confront them. And with each passing day, his heart becomes harder.

My heart breaks for this boy and others like him who are raised without discipline. Little boys who cannot read or write well (lack of parents who help with schoolwork), but can give you the middle finger, and use profanity constantly.

So how do we help fix the problem?

Add discipline!

Of course, I cannot discipline this boy physically because he isn’t my child. But that DOESN’T mean I cannot discipline him! There are many rewards like stickers, candy, playing with a ball, or simply spending quality time together that can be used to reward good behavior. And obviously those same rewards can be removed for bad behavior.

The boy listens to me! Maybe not completely, but he won’t disobey or disrespect me like others. This began because he wanted a sweetie, but now it’s because he knows I won’t put up with disobedience.

In the end this is what children want…..

Someone who will tell them no, and back it up with loving action.

Sadly, I cannot become a spiritual parent to every child in Barrouallie. But I can through attention and loving discipline bring this one on the path from rudeness to submission.

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