I can imagine my sister having a smile on her face and my kids rolling their eyes when they see the title of this post. In my family, everyone calls me a strict mom. My sister who considers herself more lenient used to tell my niece (who I fiercely love) when she was younger that she would send her off to my place when she would indulge in some crazy mischief. No points for guessing that it would quieten her immediately. No, I am not Hitler but yes I did insist that instead of chucking in the bin she had to finish her vegetables. 🙂
Growing up my dad was the disciplinarian while my mum was more easy going. Of course, it helped that we were obedient kids and teens. At least, that is my memory of things. 🙂 But as a parent, this discipline bit is the thing I’ve struggled with the most despite my firm exterior. Yes, I lay down the rules and I expect them to be obeyed. And I am sure that when they are older, the kids would thank me for it though currently I may seem like a strict mom to them.
Here are 5 reasons why I think that it is okay to be a strict mom:
1. Self-discipline is crucial in life:
As parents we ready our kids to lead lives as independent adults who are naturally responsible and do not struggle without parental authority and guidance. And according to me, good habits developed from childhood play a big role here. Right from simple things like good hygiene, keeping things in their place to larger things like your inherent character, hard work, work ethic, honesty and so on need to be inculcated both by having rules at home and by showing your kids by example. When parents are too soft or let go, we see entitled and spoilt kids growing up into brash adults.
2. Actions come with consequences:
Often times, we slacken when it comes to enforcing rules. I know so many mums like me who will nicely tell their kids everyday to put their shoes in the shoe rack or their worn uniform in the laundry basket. They would set time that they need to spend on their gadgets and time for them to finish their homework and play. But where it fails is often in the implementation. Kids can and will break rules. And then they will look at you with melting puppy eyes. But enforcing the consequences of breaking rules is important. And I don’t mean beating or violence. I often take away their privileges when the rules are not followed in the house. It is not easy but it is needed. And I have seen positive behaviour changes as a result. Of course, I talk with them and let them know what I am feeling and listen to them. At home as in life, actions come with consequences.
3. Academic Excellence requires discipline:
To make your child perform to the best of their potential, it is important that they be organised, prioritise their studies and extracurricular activities and plan their day well. I am against hammering our kids to fulfill the ambition of their parents. But I am all for guiding them and showing them that discipline is the key to them achieving their goals. There is a time to pressure our teens and as a parent, I don’t stop myself by having regular conversations with my children to reorient their efforts towards their goals.
4. Confidence comes with accountability:
Give your children the freedom and accountability to make their own decisions. When they make their own decisions, they own the consequences good and bad. They also understand the real world a lot better. Now it is a tricky line between being motivating and going overboard with it. One of the best skills that we can teach our kids is to face disappointments and failures with equanimity. By making them accountable they develop confidence in making decisions that lead to success. Let’s not raise kids who are mollycoddled so much that they know only entitlement, not accountability, not for their actions, not for themselves.
5. Good food, fitness, money habits need to be enforced:
There are many challenges for parents of today. Compared to my childhood, there are things like cheap fast food, junk food, gadgets etc. that are highly addictive. It is also true that we can’t always keep an eye on our kids. There will be lots of times when they are alone at home or outside with friends when only self-discipline will stop them from overindulging. I have rules in my home about junk food. We don’t stock chips, biscuits, colas and processed food at home. When fancy strikes we buy what we want to eat. My husband and I eat and cook healthy food at home so that they learn the value of doing the same. We workout so they enjoy physical fitness. We teach the value of frugality and earning their valued possession so that they are not frivolous with money. None of these happen without laying down clear rules in the house. Being a strict mom is important so that they develop the right behaviour since childhood.
I would like to clarify that it is often a misconception that being strict means you beat up your kids or that they cower in fear at the sight of you. That would be an abusive relationship rather than being strict. For me being strict is in enforcing rules that inculcate discipline and good behaviour. Also the channels of communication are always open so that each of us can put our point across.
To round up, I will say that my primary job as a parent is to be a parent. I am my kids’ friend only later. It is not easy to enforce rules. It is not easy to sometimes go on a warpath with your own kids. But I do it because I have the experience and the wisdom to know better. And also because I love them and would want them to become the best version of themselves. There is only this time in childhood when they are forming their core personality, behaviour and habits. Psychologists says that changing this core later is a Herculean task. And I would want my kids to start with a good foundation for their future.
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Are you a strict mom or dad? I would love to hear what you think about discipline?