One of the biggest problems facing our education system is lack of discipline, State Sen. David Sessions (R-Grand Bay) recently told 1819’s Executive Editor Jeff Poor. “We just have an issue with discipline, Sessions said, “and it's hard for children to learn when there's not some structure there, and you just let people do as they please, basically. That's not good for anyone.”

He went on to contrast the public school system with the private sector, noting that lack of discipline in public schools is “the biggest difference between private and public. The private sector has more rules, more discipline in their classroom, in their structure."

I tend to agree with Sen. Sessions on this issue. Indeed, lack of discipline in the school system was one of many reasons my family decided to homeschool.

But as Sen. Sessions also noted, blame for lack of discipline isn’t solely the fault of the public schools. In fact, true respect and discipline starts within the home, not the classroom or the daycare we drop our children off at every day. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children what it means to be respectful and responsible and disciplined in their daily lives.

Somewhere along the way we parents loosened the reigns too much, failing to hold our children accountable and enforcing true discipline. Instead of interacting with our children, being their parents by correcting, training, and loving them, our society turned to cell phones, video games, and virtual reality as time-occupiers and babysitters.

Our society also grew soft. We fear we will hurt someone's feelings—including our children’s—so we coddle them instead. What we forget is that sometimes feelings need to be hurt. Mine have been hurt several times, but through that, I learned that my behavior needed to change.

My parents weren’t my friends, they were my parents. They taught us to show respect and obey rules. They knew the task that God had given them to raise their children, and they did their very best to instill values that would carry us through life and help us make better choices. They didn’t look for anyone else to teach us, they knew it was their responsibility.

We need to do the same, taking back the responsibility to train our children that we’ve given over to daycares and babysitters and teachers and counselors. It’s not fair to ask them to do both their job and the job of the parent.

When we as parents are faithful to teach discipline and respect in our homes, then it will be far easier to expect and demand that our schools do the same. And honestly, behavior problems in the classroom will be much more easily corrected when the home environment is enforcing the same expectations.

So, in a world that’s lacking in discipline, where do we start?

One simple thing we can do is teach our children that no means no. It's not an option for them to disobey the rules or negotiate the boundaries we set for them. Stand firm. Children crave consistency and really appreciate discipline. It eliminates confusion and creates a stable environment, and when children see that boundaries are set and consistently held, they know what is expected of them and question less. When we teach our children to trust and respect and obey us, they will carry that over to other authority figures—teachers today and employers tomorrow. 

Teaching our children to be respectful and disciplined is not hurting them. Instead, it is wanting the very best for them—and that’s what we call love.

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