Friday, November 21, 2014


I don't remember being disciplined by anyone while I was a kid and growing up. And with a husband and parents who gave me the space to be myself, I guess there was no real need for discipline. It came from within when it did. And when it didn't, well, I just fell and hurt myself and learned the hard way.

Discipline for me is about self-control and inner balance....knowing one's boundaries and limitations. And that comes with the freedom to explore. How many spaces do we have where we can explore that fearlessly? Where we can stop shushing ourselves or others for just being ourselves or themselves? Where we can truly honour people for whatever they are feeling or doing in the moment, and see them for who they are? I know that I don't do that all the time. I am not so large-hearted. But I am happy that I have been able to do that for my son and my husband, to a large extent, in the small thousand odd square feet of space that 'belongs' to us on this planet, and the limitless space in my heart, that I am of course unable to fathom and see for myself many a time. Maybe that is why we say: "Home is where the heart is".

As with all my other stories, that grew and evolved from deep darkness, this story of discipline too grew from that space. With my son. We had many challenges with him (which I hope to write about some day) more so because we were ill-equipped to deal with them. And so like most people in the crowd, we too resorted to 'train' him to put on his best behaviour, change and modify his behaviour when we felt it was 'bad', tried to explain how another person would feel if he did something that was disturbing to them, and so many more strategies. What we didn't realise was this - that the moment and conditions were not appropriate for these to work (what we call readiness) and that as a person, he was one who just could not and would not 'listen' to another. Everything had to come from him....from his own experience. Today I understand that better. Today I know that he is there to challenge and change the way people breathe....he is there to shake up the foundations of what we have built or created and believe as 'norms', and create something new himself. He is not there to do what others tell him to do, if it does not make sense to him. So yes, he is there to figure out his own boundaries through exploration and challenging what exists. And I am happy that my husband and I have been able to give him that space.

And yes, while our upbringing often plays an important part in the way we bring up our children, I am also seeing how there are other hands, other factors, other voices that play a role in that, often to the detriment of our children's freedom to learn and choose. But I am also able to see now, how that is also crucial to our evolution and interaction. Each ingredient adds to the flavour and aroma of what is being cooked.

A few weeks ago, Raghav had this long conversation with us about how he wanted to go back to eating 'corn puffs', which in my mind is a sticky, orange, addictive junk food. (You can read about that conversation here) And yet, because he had made out this whole plan on his own that he wanted to try out, we went with his choice and bought him a packet some days ago. He wanted only one packet, which he was going to keep for a whole week. This was what he wanted to do:
  • he wanted to buy only one packet and check for himself how long that would last ( whether it would last a whole week or less)
  • he wanted to eat only one cup (small one that he chose) every day - which he said was going to be the hardest for him to control, because when he ate some, he always had this urge of wanting to eat more :)
  • if he finished the packet earlier, he wanted to wait for the week to go by before he bought another one
  • he would brush his teeth every time, after he ate this and take care of his teeth.
He has about three more days to go for the week to finish and reflect on the challenge he posed himself. And he has done great up until now! He has kept to the boundaries that he has drawn up for himself (I don't think I have the kind of self-discipline that he has, even at this age). And I also don't care if he fails to meet his own challenge. I know that there will be something for all of us to learn either way. And that is what is most important.

My wish is for children and adults to have the space to explore what discipline means to them individually. My wish is for more of us to start creating those spaces in our little homes, or where we truly feel that we belong and can be ourselves. 

Discipline needs devotion and commitment. Can we be devoted and committed to our own selves and our boundaries?


"Discipline yourself, and others won't have to."


  1. what you are saying is true. We are created for freedom. However as a part of that great freedom it is our responsibility as parents to set the boundaries, for their own good, so our children won't harm themselves. Children need continual instruction, guidance and yes in some cases an appropriate form of discipline to show them that anything and everything is not ok. It could be too late for them to learn it the hard knocks way. Discipline of course should never be in public and should never be shaming fur the child. We as parents have always disciplined our 7 year and 3 year old girls and the results are amazing. They are the most admired in our circles for their behavior in public. No temper tantrums, no unpleasantness with others and instant obedience which is crucial in some cases even a matter of life and death. Lastly i must say all this is ok as long as it's in an environment of loads of love and affection. - a concerned anti- unschooling homeschooler

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts candidly. I really appreciate that and your concern. But I would feel a little more comfortable if I knew who I was talking to, if that is ok with you.

    Discipline for me is of no use without understanding - from both I feel that only then will it really work. Otherwise, whatever form of discipline I use (like setting boundaries) or expect the child to follow, would emerge from a space of fear, which personally I do not want as a parent. I would as a parent who has in the past resorted to many things out of fear, now want to come from a space where we (us and our child) can explore these things together, even if it means making what we call 'mistakes'. For me, if there is a choice between going by what society 'expects' as social behaviour and my child being honoured for who he is, I would always choose the latter. I would also like to really understand what 'discipline' means or looks like or feels to you, before I comment any further.


Your thoughts are please do share them....