Ava started playing the violin just before she turned six, almost four years ago. I remember early on posting a Facebook status, complaining about the stress around violin practice times. I was half wanting to vent, half wanting advice from more seasoned parents.
The overwhelming advice? Let her quit.
It was shocking to this then 28 year old mother. It had never crossed my mind to let her quit. I began evaluating whether or not I was expecting too much and whether the arguments were even worth it.
I then had the realization…. which I think I knew all along….. that children need discipline.
I came from a disciplined home. My father worked hard at being a successful attorney and at his role as pastor. My mother kept a clean and organized home and had dinner on the table every single night. My parents set high expectations for me. It never crossed my mind to argue with them about chores (until I was a teenager) or bring home a grade that was less than my best. At church, I knew the behavioral expectations. I easily sat quietly through an hour long Bible lesson when I was still in the single digits. I prayed and read my Bible daily because that was the behavior that was modeled to me.
It has certainly been a challenge to remain disciplined in my adult life, but I am so grateful for the lessons taught to me as a young child. The discipline of my childhood has served me well in my adult life.
I hear people all the time criticizing my generations and the generations younger than me. Perhaps we set the bar too low and expect too little of our kids, and that translates to entitled, lazy, undisciplined children?
Violin is hard to learn and my daughter complains about practicing? Let her quit.
It is easier to do the housework myself than to force my children to help. I’ll just do it all.
My life is too busy. My kids will be fine without a routine.
It is hard teaching my children to sit through a church service. We just won’t go.
My kids are so disrespectful but I don’t have it in me to have one more intervention. I’ll let it slide.
These are tendencies I struggle with daily. Sometimes it is easier to just let it slide, give up and take the path of least resistance. I find myself taking this path all too often. But isn’t this a battle worth fighting? I see enormous potential in my children, and I want to give them the tool of self-discipline. I know it will serve them well, as it has served me well.
I’m certainly not an advocate for pushing our children beyond their limitations or fighting every. single. battle. I don’t believe that creates a nurturing environment or a house that has any fun, for that matter.
But the beautiful thing about teaching our kids discipline is that somewhere down the road, they begin to see the payoff. It took over three tumultuous years of violin practices and lessons before Ava began to make beautiful music. She still has a long way to go, but she can take on and conquer a beautifully challenging song. Ava recognizes that her hard work and dedication is paying off and that she has learned to play a very difficult instrument. The battles come with less and less frequency.
So to all of you who told me to let her quit, I respectfully disagree.
In what ways do you teach your kids self-discipline? Sports? Schoolwork? Chores? At church? In what areas do you not compromise? In what areas are you more flexible? Do you agree with me that lessons of self-discipline will help with entitlement mentality? I would love your feedback! Especially from all of the seasoned parents out there!
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