I rarely hear parents openly speak about the expectations they have for their children (without bragging), and how they aim to help their children reach them. The fear of being judged has probably something to do with this. Yet, if parents spoke more about parenting style and visions, we could all surely learn from each other. Call me naive, but I believe in positivity and the power of sharing. So I’ve decided to give it a go, and discuss why I think self discipline would help me bring up my child the way I envisage it.
Throughout my student life, I procrastinated a lot. It often led to stressful sleepless nights writing essays and dissertations, which I never enjoyed. But, this made me a human and typical student, with great almost-missed-deadlines stories to tell (I can laugh about them now). But it also said something else about me: I lacked self discipline. After graduating, I learned more about self discipline, and even managed to use it to curb my spending habits. Self discipline gives us control over our decisions, enabling us to think more rationally and less impulsively. The moment I gave birth to my daughter, I became fully responsible for her upbringing, and this meant looking for best ways to do this work.
Becoming a parent does not come with a manual, and as a new mother I know this very well. The choices I have made so far for my child have been based on my personal preferences, experiences and visions. I, for instance, chose to breastfeed my baby, cook her home-made food, and expose her to as many positive and new things as I can. Though I think I’m doing OK as a mother right now, I strongly believe in having room for improvement in all aspects of my life, including parenting. So, as I go through new experiences and develop as an individual, I know that my parenting skills will follow suit.
There is not such a thing as a perfect parenting style. What’s certain, however, is that our actions as parents significantly influence our children’s behaviours. Various psychology studies have backed this, and Albert Bandura’s 1961 pioneering Bobo doll experiment is a particularly good example. It showed how children played with the doll according to what they saw adults doing. Those who watched adults play aggressively with the doll, for instance, did exactly the same thing when they were left alone in the room (video of the experiment). So, as I develop my parenting skills, I remember the importance of practising what I preach. I figured that a journey towards attaining self discipline will help me better myself now, and this will ultimately have a positive impact on my daughter.
I chose to be “real” in this mummy business and lead by example as consistently as I can. So I started by acknowledging that I must change those aspects of my life that I would not like my daughter to have. One of these things is having a sweet-tooth. For years, I used to have about 4 teaspoons of sugar in my tea (it always raised eyebrows), dessert has always been my favourite part of a meal, and I bake a lot. So you can only imagine how much sugar I have had over the years. To make it worse, I knew how bad sugar could be for my health, but I continued to consume a lot of it. It would have therefore been hypocritical of me to demand my daughter to consume very little sugar, when I do the opposite.
A recent article on The independent newspaper has in fact highlighted just how important parents are in helping children build brighter futures. Most parents want the very best for their children, and I’m no different. But the expectations we have for our children are not always easy to achieve. Aspiring to something and accomplishing it are definitely two different things. It’s the effort we put towards achieving our dreams that makes them become true. So, if I want the best outcomes for my daughter, including healthy lifestyle, emotional stability, and mental toughness, then I must be hands-on with her upbringing and set good example for her. I’m very aware that both my husband’s and my choices are very likely to affect our daughter’s future, and that is what drives me to attain self discipline.
My journey to self discipline is a difficult one, as it requires making major adjustments in my life. But like the saying goes, no pain no gain. Going on this journey does not mean that I lack total control over my life; if I didn’t have any notion of self discipline I would have not graduated from one of the top 25 UK universities or have a career, for instance. My discipline approach in the past has simply been selective. Now I aim to achieve wholly self discipline as part of my everyday life, and there lies the great challenge. My daughter being my drive, I will stay focused on my end goal.
I believe in the power of our mind, and for me, training it through adopting self discipline is a sustainable way to overcome many difficulties we face. So, I have divided my journey into monthly challenges in order to make smooth transitions. These challenges stretch my mental strength, and empower my mind to make rational rather than impulsive decisions, such as over indulging in sweet stuff, procrastinating, and not working out consistently. I will be posting how they go, so watch this space.
I chose self discipline to help me bring up my daughter primarily because it is an attainable and sustainable way to bring about real inner change. When we combine self discipline with the appropriate knowledge, I believe that parenthood can be made smoother. This may be my preferred parenting approach, but it is not the only one I’m opened to. There are many other ways to help parents raise their children, and I would be very interested to know how and why others have chosen whichever technique to bring up their children. Who knows what I may pinch from you…