Thursday, July 25, 2013


How did our parents discipline us? Or rather, how did we view ‘being punished’ in those days? (I don’t think we had the terms discipline or parental psychology catch phrases like syndromes, disorders, etc. etc.).

When we were children, life was never fair. We subjectively ruled out any just actions towards us; we were very quick to compare our situation to our siblings (who were receiving better treatment) and found any punishment or ‘consequence’ too harsh, unwilling to introspect and analyze our actions.

Then we became parents.

We realized immediately that when dealing with our children ‘fair’ could never enter into the equation. Each child is a world. Yes, we put them together in a house or even a room, but each one is wired differently, how can we lump them together and treat them the same way?

We as parents realize the naiveté of children and their simplistic expectation of the answers for why they did not get their way. Our children, however, are incapable of comprehending all the complexity which goes in (and should go in) to any disciplinary action we take. Sometimes we want to teach our children a lesson; other times we want them to overcome the obstacle to reach higher self-actualization. Sometimes we share with our child the benefits of this challenge, other times we keep it to ourselves in hope that they will arrive at the revelation on their own.

The only time I gained some insight as to the parenting philosophy of my mother was after thirty years passed and I was in the parental driver’s seat, navigating a course for my five children.

One day I called my mom and simply said, thank you.

It was that perspective which afforded me the insight about my youth, it gave me the ability to look back and share a moment of gratitude with my mom who gave me the latitude to figure it out on my own.

Why am I waxing philosophical about parenting and discipline?

ה וְיָדַעְתָּ, עִם-לְבָבֶךָ: כִּי, כַּאֲשֶׁר יְיַסֵּר אִישׁ אֶת-בְּנוֹ, ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מְיַסְּרֶךָּ. 5 And you shall consider in your heart, that, as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Moshe, at the end of 40 years, after the trials and travails, turns to this new generation and says, “You have always been God’s children. Recognize the merits of that status and shoulder the responsibility of it. When it looks like an unfair burden, consider, how would you discipline your child?”