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Rules Without Relationships Part 2
By Barrington H. Brennen, 2014



Question: Dear Sir: What is more important, having rules or building relationships?

Answer: Dear Reader: It is not trivia that the words disciple and discipline come from the same root word. While reading a weekly Adventist Bible Study Guide, I noted these words from the author: "One who is disciplined is also a disciple and comes to reflect characteristics of the mentor. Christians are disciples of Christ. Are children disciples of their parents? If parents were to see their jobs as making disciples, how would their method of discipline change?" It is important for us to see discipline as a total package says author W. D. Frazee. "Discipline is a total package including instruction, modeling, illustration, experience, and as necessary, corrective or motivating exercise, better known as punishment." But it is imperative to understand that any form of punishment without the total package is punitive. Punishment itself only attempts to stop wrong doing or show displeasure for wrong doing. Punishment is ruling from without. It may work for very short periods of time. The goal of discipline however, is to rule from within. It is what we call self-government. This is the awesome task first, of parents, and then teachers.

I wish our parents would remember that they are the primary educators of their children. Something I’ve mentioned countless times in previous articles. Parents provide the first classroom--the home, and the first lessons--table manners and the bedtime discipline, to name a few. They also provide the foundation for active leaning in school and community. Thus, teachers are secondary educators of children. They build on the foundations already established in the home. Some of the building blocks in the foundation of learning are attitude, resilience, courage, critical thinking, independent thought, the quest for knowledge, social justice and personal integrity. Without these building blocks to learning, we have chaos in the classroom, and community.
President Elect George Bush in a speech this week expressing the need for change and reduction of violence, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King with these words: "Those we must change we must first love." Needless to say that true discipline is love. Punishment alone causes hatred in the one who is being punished, and frustration in the one who is punishing. This is why we can say that love comes first. True love causes parents to think objectively. It helps us to respond and not react to pending crisis. True love teaches patience and not harshness. Perhaps Mother Teresa’s words are most fitting here: "Love has to be put into action and that action is service . . . all works of love are works of peace." If we consider true discipline as putting love into action thus building an attitude of service in our children, then true discipline is inherently value building and can never be a destructive force.
Is it too late, then to make a difference with our troubled youth? How can we help them? It is never too late to start. However, the later we wait, the more difficulty it is and the more creative must be our strategies to help. The help we can offer is two-fold–the here and now, and the here after. Here are some point to think about:

1) Provide compulsory training/treatment programs of parents of troubled youth. When a child or student is consistently defiant and/or willingly breaks the law, the parents and children should be involved in a behavior modification program. This kind of program is not only the responsibility of the government, but the community also. We need more private companies investing in our youth by helping to establish such programs. This can be in the form of a two- to four-week camp for child and parent (up to age 18) where individual, group and parent-child counseling/activities are done.

2) Encourage the judicial system to enforce the laws when any teenager causes harm or gives threats to others. Placing someone in a treatment program with punishment and restitution is counter productive.

3) All government and private schools should provide parenting seminars.

4) Find ways of dealing with parents who do not come to report card days to learn about the development and progress of their child’s educational journey.

5) Evaluate teaching methods. Encourage teachers to be proactive and not reactive in the classroom.

6) Establish an in-school suspension program. Students who break school rules do not benefit by suspending them and sending them to a community that encourages their behavior. An in-house suspension program could be established in districts or maybe one for the entire island of New Providence. The program will be ran by specially trained teachers and social workers who teach them in a structured, controlled environment.

7) Cease the social promotion–the promotion of students to upper grades simply because they are getting older. Reward achievement, not chronological maturity.

8) Re-evaluate the system of co-educational schools for all ages. Research is now indicating that there may be value in separating the teaching of boys and girls for short periods (not the entire schooling). Although I support co-educational learning, we do know that children coming from dysfunctional homes are greatly at-risk when in mixed classrooms. Boys are generally under achievers and girls are the learners. When they are separated, both sexes usually excel.

9) Solicit more male teachers, especially in the primary schools. Since many of our homes are empty of both parents, it is imperative that we provide a balance in the school system. Women alone cannot effectively teach our boys. The government and private organizations, must find ways of making the teaching profession an attractive alternative for males today (however, not at the expense of female teachers). Our schools are thirsty for talented male teachers at all levels.

10) Churches must make the effort of become grace-centered and not law-centered churches where people feel welcome and families can find healing. Grace-centered churches are havens of affirmation where criticisms are seldom heard. Grace-centered churches learn to find a balance between keeping the law and understanding the spirit of the law. It is a church where members are taught to think critically. Law-centered churches are producers and power-driven traditional parents who are more concerned about punishing to "save face" than making true disciples of their children.

Send your questions or comments to Barrington H. Brennen, question@soencouragement.org  or call 1-242-327 1980, or snail mail: P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas

First  Part 1    Part  2   Part  3  Rules Part 4






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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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