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Home > Support > Family Life > Should I put the kids in school because I have grown weak in the area of discipline?
Question: My teenagers have gotten into the habit of using language that is unacceptable when they are angry at one other, ex. stupid, moron, idiot, etc. They justify it by saying that other teenagers use language that is worse than that. They have also (along with the younger ones) gotten into the habit of hitting one another when they fight. There is also disobedience and a lot of complaining going on. I just turned 48 and I feel very tired and burnt out. My husband works six days a week and very long hours because he is the sole provider of the family, I feel like a single parent most of the time. As a result of this and also many trials in our life, I have grown weak in the area of discipline, I feel like I just can't do it anymore, and even when I try, I don't get good results from the kids. Sometimes I feel this is an indication that God may want me to put the kids in school, even though I would rather not have to.

Dear Mom,

Nothing steals what little peace we manage to hang onto like disharmony in our families. When our children are disrespectful and treat one another with physical violence and verbal abuse our spirits are troubled, fretful, and near despair. We cry out to the Father for solutions and at the same time we find ourselves willing to throw up our hands in resignation to the fate of the family. We 'throw in the towel' and wait for the day when the children are on their own and out of the house.

If you were trying to destroy a family or cover their eyes to the resources available to them, resources that would help, wouldn't you employ the tactics you have mentioned? The Tempter is a lazy soldier. He delights in using our human weakness to effect his unholy designs. He attacks women because he is well aware that we mothers are the keeper of the keys of faith in our families. He gradually wears us down and then continues his warfare each and every day.

When a mother hears her children argue with one another it is very disturbing. Many emotions bombard our spirits. We feel like we have somehow failed because our efforts to raise holy children seem useless. We feel certain that our workload of discipline is monumental and therefore needs to be farmed out to experts who can better address the needs of the children. We are more than willing to relinquish our role to others.

I do not think discipline is about homeschooling. I believe that young people need to learn to be holy individuals no matter the method of education they receive. In other words I do not believe that a lack of holiness or discipline results from homeschooling. On the contrary I think that it is a blessing that you are homeschooling because you are better able to approach this problem with centered focus on a daily basis.

It seems that a lack of discipline is the major reason many parents choose to abandon homeschooling. This is sad that parents feel that in order to better discipline their children they must relinquish what they feel the Lord has called them to do. It only makes sense that the Lord wants our children to be holy and self disciplined therefore He will use our family to effect this goal. Making the choice to forgo homeschooling should not be about a lack of discipline but about hearing the Lord's call to do so. Our children need to be disciplined holy persons no matter where they go to school.

In the same respect I do not believe that the ages of your children warrant your feeling that you should have to be actively involved in hands on discipline. The majority of your children are above age 14. Think about this for a moment. There are many homes where the mothers are too ill physically to actively participate in the day to day care of the children, yet in these homes the older children in effect become lower case parents and nurtures to the younger siblings. Their witness is powerful and of the Lord. Think of families where the father must be away for extended amounts of time due to obligations with his job. Certainly and in ideal situations it would be a great joy to have two parents at home fulltime doing the day to day discipline of children and caring for their physical and emotional needs. Yet this is not the case in the vast majority of homes. Children must learn to be responsible for their behavior and they must be held accountable for the sorrow their inappropriate behavior brings into a family. A home is not a battleground and therefore when it becomes such the wounds this creates are far reaching and not easily healed.

Ask yourself this question. Why would young adults feel the need to behave like young children and not step up to the responsibility afforded them by virtue of their standing in the family?

In a situation like you describe it is time for a serious family caucus. Your husband and yourself need to get your game plan together and then show a united front to the children. The Tempter is moving in and around your family to destroy and take. Your family must be very special to the Lord for the Tempter to work so hard to have you. Remember the Tempter is lazy. You are loving parents and the Tempter is attacking you mightily. Please do the following steps and see the results that are forthcoming.

First find an hour when you and your husband can go to meditate and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Do not bring the children with you. Think of this time as your time to go before the Lord to receive His personal instructions for the battle ahead. While in this time of prayer, each of you pray intently for 20 minutes or so. Pour out your hearts. Then listen quietly to the inspirations the Lord will give you both. Let the Lord's graces wash over the two of you as if the Lord Himself were putting on your robe for battle.

Then spend the following week in private prayer over the matters that concern each of you. Each of you should make a commitment to pray before the Lord separately and hear the words of wisdom the Lord has for each uniquely. At the end of the week compare notes and begin to get a game plan together.

Thirdly come before the children and with renewed confidence and assurance that the Lord is fighting with you, lay your concerns and sorrows before the children. Make certain that you do not mix words or sugar coat the sorrow that has entered your home. Talk openly and with great sincerity and frankness. Then allow each of children to express their perceptions of the situation.

As a family begin to explore solutions and regain control of the holiness that has been lost. Make a promise to pray the family rosary each evening. Make an effort to be together (if your husband must work make certain that you ask one of the older children to take his place when reciting the mystery that he would normally offer). Offer up each one of the mysteries of the Rosary for each of the children. Have the children offer up the mysteries for one another. The Rosary is a powerful and fruitful weapon. Our Lady will uplift and uphold your efforts to come to her Son through this powerful prayer.

Prepare a small area of your home as an altar. Having an altar dedicated to the Lord in an area of your home that is within sight of all gives a seriousness to the vocation of prayer and family. This altar is your base and your place of peace. Obtain holy water from your church and encourage each member of the family to bless themselves often throughout the day. Sprinkle the holy water about your home and begin to think of your home as a domestic church worthy of the piety and sanctity afforded a sanctuary. Within the walls of your home the Lord resides in repose in the heart and soul of each of member of the household.

Speak with your parish priest and ask that he counsel you through this difficult time. Give yourself the opportunity to receive the inspired guidance of this ordained person. His wisdom is of the Lord. Speak with other families and ask for their recommendations of priests that can be of help to you and your husband. Many times priests in other parishes have particular gifts working with different situations. Explore the options and then go forward.

Do not despair. When women and men are compared there is one factor that is interesting and unique of each. Women have the gift of endurance (this is why we are able to endure childbirth) and men have the gift of strength. Your husband is strong and able to work the long hours necessary to provide for his family but you have endurance. You will stick with this problem no matter the amount of time it employs. Let the Tempter know that he has met his match for you are willing to fight for as long as it takes to regain the holiness in your family. The Lord has won the battle with His death and Resurrection, now we are to go forward into the day to day conflicts knowing that the victory is indeed ours. Call upon the well-spring of graces available and confidently know that what you are doing is within the Lord's will and He will empower you.

You are a holy and pure witness before the Lord and I am grateful for your candid letter. It addresses a concern that is a part of family life to a greater or lesser degree in all homes.

Jesus, we praise You and give You all the glory. Please let Your powerful Holy Spirit come upon this situation and empower this dear mother and her husband to regain the holiness that has been stolen from their home. I ask that this mother feel the power of Your strength as she travels into the battle that confronts her. Please bless her husband and keep him healthy and strong for the task ahead. Lord, she is Your faithful and loving servant and longs to see Your face. We love You, Lord. St. Joseph, pray for us.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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