Obedience or Responsibility?
“Discipline” originally meant teaching/learning, in Latin (“disciplina”). Thus, the word disciple. So, your discipline system is teaching your children something, and they are learning something. Every relationship, and every family too, has some kind of a discipline system in place, whether the expectations (“rules”) and the consequences that flow from actions are spelled out clearly, or never discussed. Patterns of action and behavior develop and are repeated with much regularity, so that everybody kind of knows “what to expect,” even if the thing that’s expected is something like, “You never know what to expect.” That’s an expectation, isn’t it: “lack of consistency.” A discipline system with a lack of consistency can be called “confusing,” and if it’s really confusing over a long period of time, you could consider it to be “chaotic.”
Thus, whatever your approach to discipline is–confusing, chaotic, organized, clear, consistent, persistent–you are teaching your children something about your expectations and how you approach rewards and punishment for good and bad behavior. You might unknowingly be teaching them that “Mom and dad never notice anything good that I do, only my failures,” or perhaps, “Mom and dad actually notice and appreciate the good things I do.” In the final analysis, since the parents are the architects of their own Harmony House (or perhaps “DISharmony House”), your discipline system is constantly teaching your children about you, and about how you regard them.”
So the question arises, “Do you want to be teaching your children that you primarily want obedience from them, or that you primarily want responsibility from them?