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Dads as Models of Self-Discipline

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

© Marco Uberti - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.

"All undesirable behavior should be placed on a behavioral continuum ranging from ‘only mildly annoying to dangerous' and likely to result in serious consequences," Dr. William Walker Jr., Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, says in one of his daily parenting tips. His comment helps us to understand the importance of looking not only at the whole child, but also the whole parent.

Parents, no matter who you are, admit it, our children are generally measured against a variety of models. Some of the models used are not always fair. We read books to find the perfect child. We listen to other parents and hear ‘only' about how good their children are, never bothering to ask, "Did you ever wonder why you had them?" Granted, you may only wonder that in a moment of weakness when they treaded on your last nerve! Still, it's an admission of human frailty as we try to decide just how undesirable is the undesirable behavior of someone we love.

Dr. Walker says that as children progress through childhood, parents should expect their children to engage in various behaviors parents might find undesirable. He's my witness, as I'll admit there are times when my sons do things that drive me up a wall. Since I can't climb that wall, I must realize my behavior is modelled on how they fashion theirs. We have to learn to determine if our kid's behavior is something that will bring negative consequences. We have to be willing to become the first jailers they know, implementing a variety of disciplinary measures from grounding, no TV, no telephone, sanctuary in their rooms, or visits with a hickory spoon.

Our kids must learn rules, but remember who must make the rules clear. And remember, the rules will be broken. Trust me! I know. The fact that rules are posted in their rooms, or on the fridge doesn't mean we won't be tested as the rules are ignored. That's where the hard part comes in. What to do if rules are ignored? I'm willing to bet there's no parent alive or dead who could not find something objectionable in the way their kids behave, particularly in public.

The test comes in answering this question: "Is this particular behavior really worth battling over?" We have to be selective. We've raised a bunch of smart manipulative kids, and at times I almost want to bring out the recorder when they tell me "That's not what you said," just as I want to bop them on the head, the way I was bopped. But I remember, maybe bopping made me bald. To bop or not to bop makes me realize as Dr. Walker says, "If the behavior is nothing more than just annoying, it might be best to save your strength for those bigger battles and more important issues that no doubt will come your way on another day."

Remember that, as you remember how much you are watched. Just like the dads involved last July when Thomas Junta allegedly beat another father to death after they argued at their sons' hockey practice. As of this writing, Junta is in court facing manslaughter charges. His actions remind us all of how some dads are perceived at their children's sporting events. We can't let our behavior get the best of us, and lose control, as Junta did.

Now, Junta's life is in the hands of lawyers who are arguing Junta, who weighs 270 pounds was defending himself against the 160-pound Costin. What happened? To bring you up to speed, after an ice hockey practice, an argument [between Junta and Costin] was followed by a fistfight in the hallway. Junta walked away, but returned a few minutes later, pinned down Costin, hitting his head on the floor until Costin lost consciousness. Many, including a number of 10 -15 year-old hockey players, witnessed the entire incident. What does this say about behavior? Well, regardless of what happens to Junta, Costin is dead. Costin's children don't have a father because Junta didn't control his behavior. How Junta's son will react in the future, whether his dad is acquitted or not is irrelevant, when you consider the damage already done.

Our behavior influences our kids more than many of us are willing to accept. Present a model for them to follow. Sure, they will detour, as I'm sure we all did. But in the end, they will show their love by how we love them, and do things they see us do. Want them to go to church? Then go to church. Want them to not use foul language? Then keep your language clean. Et cetera, et cetera. Bottom line? Parenting is a war. Disciplining and punishing may win battles, but the models we give them win the war. Don't be a Junta! Defend your kids by doing what's right!

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