Self-discipline is the training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, such as the act of disciplining or power to discipline one’s own feelings or desires. It is the correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement. It is the ability to motivate oneself in spite of a negative emotional state. Qualities often associated with self-discipline include willpower, restraint, hard work, self-control, and persistence.
Without self-discipline we can never achieve our full potential or accomplish our dreams. A person who is a naturally gifted musician or athlete but if doesn’t have the discipline to practice hard and often will never reach their full potential. An extremely intelligent person who did not study and learn would waste that ability. We are tremendously handicapped if we base our decisions purely on our comfort level. If we don’t develop the capacity for self discipline we deprive ourselves of not only greater likelihood of success, but also larger and long-lasting satisfactions.
Men who are undisciplined are slaves to their appetites, moods, and desires. Freedom comes from discipline. Self-discipline involves acting on how you think and not how you feel. If you allow your whims (your feelings–moods, appetites, desires) to control you, life is not of your own choosing. Living a life with discipline is a much more efficient way to live life. It makes life easier and less chaotic.
Many young men in our culture today are pre-adult boy-men who present themselves to the world as failures (we call them slackers) because they feel like failures as men or do not feel like men at all. They present a mask of being slovenly, uncaring of the world around them, unmotivated, and apathetic about anything except their own self-gratification. They appear to have low sense of responsibility, low self-esteem, and little sense of honor. They have unconsciously decided to avoid becoming a man. Michael Gurian describes these young men like this, “Like many “pre-adult” males in our culture, most in their twenties or early thirties, he was a “guy” raised without a father or enough male mentors, and/or in a position of poverty or wealthy entitlement that impeded his development into a mature man. He knew himself as a second or third rate male, not a man possessing what I would later discuss with him as a strong core-self.”
Fathers are especially important in disciplining boys. Fathers seem to have been endowed by God with the mantle of authority within the family. Children have an innate ‘fear factor’ of fathers that mothers do not naturally possess. The greater size, strength, and potential for violence that men have contribute to this perceived fright. Edmund Morris describes it thus, “There hung about his big, relaxed body an ever-present threat of violence, like that of a lion who, dozing, will suddenly flick out a lethal paw.”
For all boys, but especially for teen boys, fathers are the boundary that keeps them from asserting their will in ways that could be destructive to themselves and others. Fathers are routinely viewed as the enforcer of family rules and values. You seldom see gang members with involved, loving fathers at home. Teenage boys may even become disrespectful with mom in ways they would never try with their father.
Boys who are not disciplined by their fathers often do not learn self-discipline and self-control which are huge factors in male satisfaction in life. Boys who are undisciplined are unhappy and grow up to be men who disappoint themselves and others in their life.
Dads it will be important for you to be a bit “hard” on your son. Moms are frequently tougher on daughters than they are on sons. Most mothers allow their sons to get away with things they would never allow their daughters to get away with. It is imperative that you teach him the value of self-discipline even if it means being what might appear to be “tough” to him in some circumstances. If your experience is anything like mine, your wife won’t be happy about that sometimes, but it is for your son’s best interest. Men and boys without self-discipline seldom reach their potential.
And oftentimes the only way boys learn self-discipline is by it being forced upon them.