Discipline with Love


When parents think of ‘discipline’ they are usually thinking in terms of ‘punishment’. But another definition is ‘instruction’. Dr Justin Coulson points out that the meaning of discipline has shifted over time. It comes from the Latin ‘disciplina’ meaning ‘teaching’, and ‘discipulus’ meaning ‘pupil.’

“When we ‘discipline’ our children, we guide, teach and instruct them to be our pupils, students or followers. Our aim is not to punish. It is to teach them good ways to act.”

He says the most effective discipline happens when there is a foundation of trust, emotional availability, and a willingness to be truly in the moment when we are interacting with our children.

“We have to get our relationship right before we can discipline, or teach, our children. When we get our relationships right, and respond to our children in ways that teach, we find that traditional ‘discipline’ (in other words, punishment) is required far less.”

That’s got to make everyone happier!

Biblical fact point

It’s not surprising, that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ share common roots. Jesus called disciples the people he chose to teach about God’s plan for life and love.

Why Re-Invent the wheel?

One of the joys of family life is celebrating old traditions and creating new ones.
We don’t have to look far to find them, nor continually re-invent the wheel. Our Catholic traditions and practices are a rich resource for families wanting to build or improve on their meaningful happiness.

This is our pick of some of the best family traditions for bringing us closer to each other and to God.

  1. Take a breather
    Placing Sunday Mass (or the Saturday vigil) as an anchor point in our hectic week lets us pause and take an existential breather before plunging into the next one.
    It’s a time to remember and give thanks for all our blessings. It’s also a space where we can be nourished spiritually by Jesus and the community.
  2. Name that baby
    Pope Francis wrote of the special privilege God gives to parents to name their child by which he or she ‘will be known for all eternity’. Choosing a Christian name for our children cements both their uniqueness and belonging in the Catholic community, giving them a sense of belonging and culture.
  3. Get together
    It’s often said that it ‘takes a village to raise a child’. Parish communities are a great resource for families in providing ready-made support networks for building a village. There are social studies which show that kids raised in faith communities tend to have better relationships with their family and improved social and emotional outcomes.
  4. Tell stories
    Our family’s best stories are invaluable for meaningful happiness, and so are the stories of our wider Christian family – the Gospels, Jesus’ parables, and all the tales of ancient to modern day saints and heroes. Whether we bond over a wise and articulate pastor or the funniest comedian in our family, stories have the power to unite us.
  5. Everybody loves Christmas!
    The bigger feast days like Christmas and Easter, and celebrations such as weddings and baptisms inject real joy into our lives and opportunities to build life-long happy memories. Even funerals are often deeply special times to honour the best and dearest memories of loved ones.


This article is an excerpt from FRANKLYmag – The Happiness Issue, to order your FRANKLYmag, visit livingwellmedia.com.au

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