[June 26, 2019] I was traveling out in the Western U.S. this past week. In one of the many legs of my trip, I sat beside a Texas High School principal on an American Airlines flight. We talked about college and the challenges of teaching and eventually, I asked her what message she would share with us. She said that the biggest problem in schools is the lack of discipline and that parents are responsible to fix the problem, not the schools.
“Discipline isn’t what you do to a Child – It’s what you do for a child…” – Unknown
Discipline begins at home. I see it in young soldiers who come into the U.S. Army and don’t know how to show respect or to even make their bed in the morning. The movie Private Benjamin (1980) starring Goldie Hawn plays on this very theme. It’s about a sheltered young high-society woman who joins the U.S. Army on a whim and finds herself in difficult situations.
While reading a book by retired Lieutenant General Hal Moore, I was surprised at his admission that, as a child, he struggled to keep his emotions in check. Like many young boys, Hal Moore liked to fish, hunt, camp, and generally have fun. But his overall lack of discipline caused him to fight fiercely to be a better person. In Hal Moore on Leadership, he shares an important lesson in life; that discipline begins at home. Without his parents, Hal Moore tells us he would have been a failure.
Hal Moore, the High School principle, and many others place the responsibility of discipline squarely at the feet of parents. Excuses are made that parents in a modern society are too busy or are just doing their ‘own thing’ and ‘shouldn’t be bothered.’ It’s always “someone else’s responsibility,” the modern argument goes. Parents who do not implant discipline in their children are guilty of the most fundamental error of parenting.
Discipline is, by definition, what drives us to succeed and get those things we want. Usually, it means working hard, being honest, and treating others properly. Without discipline, all the motivation in the world cannot help us. We must be focused and attentive to control ourselves and insure we do the right thing at the right time.
Parents give us our first introduction to discipline. Eventually, through nurturing and a firm kindness of our parents, we grow emotionally to understand that our pathway to success is only through disciplined behavior. Self-discipline is learned from our parents and is the end-product of good parenting.