A Word From Dr. Ray

Discipline―A word that once had a pretty good reputation. Parents instinctively knew that discipline was something kids needed. It was good for them. It taught them the basics of living―character, morals, responsibility, respect. But in the last generation or two, discipline has taken a spanking. Experts proclaim that really savvy parents shouldn’t have to discipline much. They can talk and reason children into cooperating. The media bombard parents with all the latest theories on psychological correctness. And the culture relentlessly echoes the attitude that words like authority, limits, and control are old-fashioned concepts we need to throw off.

No matter what trendy notions permeate parenting today, reality always wins. Discipline still is critical to character. It still is a loving, durable gift that lasts a lifetime. And it still is something parents instinctively know is good for their children.

Nevertheless, even the best of parents are confused. Indeed, no area of child rearing causes more day-to-day uncertainty, guilt, and frustration than discipline. Are my expectations too high? Am I too strict? Too lax? When should I discipline? Where? How much? What if I’m wrong? How can I get my kids to listen? Is their behavior normal? Why am I so sure that discipline is a top concern among parents today? The sheer numbers. The great majority of people who attend my seminars are seeking discipline guidance. Most of my clients come to me out of frustration. They are not enjoying their kids as they had hoped because the kids’ behavior is so unruly. Indeed, 90 percent of what parents ask of me concerns discipline. They want direction, peace, and a better relationship with their children.

Originally these articles appeared in the form of columns for publication throughout the country. You’ll probably notice some common themes running through all my answers. One, you know what’s best for your child. Two, authority is not a bad word. Three, discipline, by and large, is not complicated. Good ideas are straightforward and easy for you to use. Similar techniques can work for a wide range of problems.

And most important, parenthood is God-designed to be enjoyed. We’re all in this together. We share the same worries and frustrations. Let’s lighten up, laugh more, and love our children enough to do what’s best for them, and for us, too.

Dr. Ray