Earlier this week my beau and I had to regroup as parents and instill some discipline in our daughter. Because I'm step-mama, this is a particularly hairy area for me because I'd like to be seen as the Fairy Godmother rather than the Wicked Stepmother. I practically got in on the ground floor of this parenting thing, changed the diapers, potty-trained through the 'terrible twos' and the 'torrential threes' (whew! nobody tells you about those!). Passed the heart-singing milestones of preschool & kindergarten graduations, the learning how to's of swimming, going under water, riding a bike, reading, playing soccer, even washing her own hair. We've currently landed at 9, with 10 rapidly approaching and we constantly rattle our heads in the disbelief of how time seems to fly at warp speed.
So before I gingerly approached the topic of discipline with my beau, I hiked on it. Often people will sleep on 'it' or chew on 'it', I hike on 'it'. It was on this hike that I began thinking about the word discipline and its close cousin disciple, which is a student or follower. Discipline has gotten a bad rap because, especially in the mind of nine year-old, it connotes punishment. Yet discipline is really the undercurrent of what guides us in our lives.
Discipline is derived from the Latin, 'disciplina' meaning 'instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge.' It's the manner in which this knowledge is imparted where we have to pay close attention. But discipline is what gets us up in the morning at a punctual time. It's what guides us from eating that apple fritter or drinking that extra glass of wine to making a green smoothie or having a cup of herbal tea. It's what often drags us into chilly mornings to go for a walk or into the gym. It's what keeps me interested on my yoga mat rather than throwing my hand up, walking out and saying..whatEVER! It creates focus in every facet of our lives, from eating and exercise, how we utilize our money, how we behave in relationships and how we cultivate a spiritual practice.
If instilled well with guidance and nurturing, discipline can create a system of healthy habits rather than a drudgery of have-to's. It's the system of healthy habits which create a foundation for us to launch into something much higher than we ever thought we could be. That great athlete, artist, writer, scientist, you name it, discipline is a key cornerstone for fulfilling our true potential. It's a balance of taming the wildness while leaving breathing room for the vibrance to thrive.
Gratefully, my beau and I saw eye-to-eye on what discipline really was and how to weave it into the Taurean makeup of our lovely daughter. So after dinner we had a family meeting and discussed the topic at hand. We thoughtfully provided guidance as to why a certain computer game had to be replaced with reading books, practicing piano and extra math exercises on school nights. A squall of crocodile tears ensued, yet we gently explained the importance of a practice and how we, as parents, needed to do a better job of guiding her. I could see the epiphany arise on her little face that we weren't punishing her, but simply nudging her in the right direction. As parents we were being disciplined to pay better attention in guiding our daughter. Our daughter was being disciplined in practices which would help cultivate her mind. Later that evening we all reaped the rewards as she enthusiastically sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" while playing it on the piano.
How does discipline affect your life? Tell me about it in the comments below.
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