Family discipline is one of the most important characteristics that parents can instill in their children.
Rules, regulations, discipline, etc. are important and should be carried forward.
When I was growing up, my mother insisted that everyone put their things where they belonged. Jackets went on the rack leading to the basement. Shoes went into the bedroom closet. Newspapers and magazines went into their holder. Dirty clothes went into the laundry chute. The radio and TV were turned off when not in use. And on Saturdays, everyone had a job to do: My sisters were assigned various rooms to clean – dust, vacuum, etc. My job was to clean the basement or the garage or wash the car or cut the grass. There were no exceptions. These were family responsibilities. Baths were late on Saturday. On Sundays, we dressed in our best clothes and went to church as a family. I visited my grandmother and aunt with my father. A “gourmet” meal was served at 2 o’clock. Cards were played at 5:30 – with snacks at 8:30.
During the week, dinnertime at 5;30 was the highlight of our daily family gathering and lasted about 45 minutes. It not only included great food – but entailed interesting conversations – about school, work, play, sports, religion, philosophy, etc. My dad always emphasized the importance of competitiveness and doing your very best: “Find out who’s the best and make sure you outperform him or her,” was how he always put it. Mama would lead discussions about God and religion. And the girls took turns setting the table and washing the dishes.
After my wife and I married, much of the same was imparted to our kids – particularly the older ones. The kids were required to make their beds before leaving their rooms in the morning. And mealtime, which early-on was noisy and unruly, became more disciplined and orderly with a few simple rules and observations: “No-one eats until everyone is served.” “Everyone eats what is served.” “Whispers are in effect.” “Interruptions are not allowed.” “God gave us two ears and one mouth – to encourage listening.” “If you want to interrupt, you must raise your hand and wait to be recognized by Mom or Me.”
I mention this because I’ve noticed the lack of family discipline today. The above rules and regulations seem to have vanished. Kids not only interrupt and talk over each other at the dinner table – but they literally shout at one another. And eating together seems to be a lost family value.
I suppose I’ll be told that times have changed – that things are different – that I don’t really remember – that I’m old-fashioned – etc. And maybe so – but I don’t think so.
Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rubbermaid/5710362794; CC by 2.0