I can’t count the number of times I’ve had parents come into my school looking to sign their child up for classes because “they need the discipline”. This is a very popular reason that parents start their children in our classes and in the Martial Arts, we do teach these kinds of life skills that are not taught in school. However, we can not do the job and accomplish the goal all by ourselves. The parents who realize success with our program are the ones who support what we teach at home. Unfortunately, there are many parents who do not.
These parents think that they can bring their children in and expect us to instill discipline in them, and conveniently absolve themselves of having any hand in the effort. There is an interesting pattern that I notice in these people and in their children. It always seems that once the novelty or the “newness” of the class wears off for the child, the parents approach me and say something like, “we are going to have to take him out of class because we can not get him to come anymore”. They say this even though they have signed a one-year membership agreement.
Is there something wrong with this picture? The parents are looking to instill discipline in their child, yet they can not “get the child to come anymore”. Who is the parent here? Who is making the decisions, the child or the parents? The child is obviously making the decisions, since the parents are trying to convince the child to go to class, the child is deciding not to and the parents are accepting it. It is no wonder their child needs discipline. Furthermore, where is the discipline and integrity in the parents? They signed a one-year agreement and now do not want to honor it. How do they expect their child to have discipline if they are not setting the example?
This is a classic example of the child running the show. The sad thing about this is that the parents are potentially damaging their children for the rest of their lives. Children are all about instant gratification with no knowledge about what is best for them in the long run. If parents allow them to make these decisions throughout their lives, they will be teaching them to make the wrong decisions throughout their lives because they will know only how to take the easy route when making such decisions. Also, if parents are setting the example of making commitments and not following through, such as failing to honor a signed agreement, they are teaching their children to be irresponsible and unreliable.
If parents are looking to instill discipline in their children through the Martial Arts, they have to understand that they must bear some of the responsibility for it themselves. We can instill the discipline in the children if the parents will support our efforts. Parents must make the decision that the child will be in class, and they must follow through with this decision. They can not let the child make the decision whether or not they will go to class. In the winter when it is cold and dark outside, when it is time to leave to go to class and the child is on the couch watching television or playing video games, do you think the child is going to choose to go to class? Of course not! The child will never have discipline if he is allowed to run this show.
I have a vivid memory of a time when I was a young child and I was riding in the car with my dad. I was not happy playing on one of the sports teams that I belonged to and I told him that I wanted to quit. My dad replied in a stern voice, “You’re not going to quit. I am not raising a quitter. You made a commitment and you will see it through”! I have never wanted to quit anything ever since that conversation with my dad. I will never forget this as long as I live because it was one of those life changing instances when you learn something very important about life. To this day, I give all the credit to my dad for my ability to make a commitment and have the discipline and the drive to see it through, all because of that one moment in the car.
Boy how times have changed…
If you sound like one of the parents that I am targeting in this post, please do not take offense to it. I realize that parenting is not easy these days. However, we can not let our children run our lives. Take back the control and you will teach your children many valuable lessons that they will thank you for later in life.
Keep up the good fight!