The only discipline that I believe in is the discipline of love.
SRF Magazine, 1949 (Nov-Dec)
Children need discipline. I do not mean beating them; please understand that. Violence should never be used on a child! You have to guide children with firmness, but there must also be love. My point of reference is to look back to our years with Master [Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda]: We young devotees on the path were, in a sense, children. He guided us with reason, and with firmness when necessary, but also with great love. That is the ideal.
From the Booklet: “The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing”
…never, never should the parent scold or spank a child when the parent is himself angry or emotional. The child will not respect or respond to that kind of discipline. He will respect the parent who behaves toward him with wisdom, love, and understanding.
From the Booklet: “The Skilled Profession of Child-Rearing”
The best instruction is to be an example yourself, isn’t that so? I urge all of you to think deeply: “What can I do, what can I say, to instill the right standards in my child?” Scolding them will not work. I think back to my mother, who was such a wonderful inspiration. She never scolded, and I never knew what it was to have a spanking from her. She only needed to speak to us. We adored her; we wanted to do what she asked. Why? Because she talked to us with love, even when she found it necessary to be firm. You mustn’t spoil your children by giving in to misbehavior; be firm in holding them to right behavior. A child is like a seedling; you have to cultivate it. Little ones do not grow up well if not properly tended; they need the tender, loving care and wise guidance of their parents.
From: SRF YSS Magazine, 1999 (Oct-Dec)
We have to discipline them [children], but they have to feel that they are loved.
From devotee notes of the talk: “Spiritualizing Family Life”
Discipline means to set and hold to guidelines that mold the child and help him to develop his mental, moral, and spiritual character. But what happens too often in the home is that when the parents become frustrated by the child’s behavior, they vent their emotions on the young one. As a result the child feels deep resentment; gradually a rift forms between parent and child that makes it very difficult for the parent’s good intentions to guide the child. What is necessary is to surround a child with love and at the same time teach him self-discipline. When he does wrong he must know it, and know the consequences. Reason with the child about the results his behavior will bring; and if necessary impose a suitable punishment. But never, never use harmful physical force or punish under the influence of anger. When an individual has his mind centered in God, then it is possible for him to administer discipline tempered with God’s qualities of compassionate justice, understanding, and love. By meditation, one absorbs God’s qualities and gains the ability to conduct oneself properly in dealing with others.
From: YSS Magazine, 1997 (Jan-Mar)
With consistency, uphold standards of proper behavior in the home, pointing out the consequences of wrong actions. However, discipline does not mean abuse. It means guiding your children, and correcting them when necessary, with reason and understanding—and with endless patience. One should not have children if one does not have patience.
From: YSS Magazine, 2007 (Oct-Dec)
[Yogananda says:] My mother always tried to teach me to discriminate between my good and wrong desires. Sometimes she would explain why she said no, and sometimes not.
You do great injury to your children by granting all their desires. I remember there was a rich man’s son my mother knew. His mother used to give into anything he wanted. One night he wanted to do something that was very improper; and she told him, “Go ahead, it’s all right.” My mother heard about it and said to that boy’s mother, “You are spoiling your child for good. You are tolerating his bad behaviour; but the world will not tolerate it. When he grows up into an unpopular adult, he will not appreciate you; he will blame you.” One of the habits of this undisciplined child was refusing to eat what he was served. Despite his mother’s cajoling, he wouldn’t touch his meal until given his preferred foods. She talked it over with my mother. Mother said, “That is very simple. I can make him eat, but you must not get soft-hearted. The next time he says that he won’t eat, just say, ‘That’s all right. You don’t have to eat if you don’t want to.’ And then call me.”
So the next time the boy threw a fit about his food, his mother placated him just as my mother had suggested. The son was taken aback at this turn of events. He expected that his mother would coax him to eat. Mother went over, and she and the other lady sat down and began to visit. The lunch was put away. Two o’clock came, and the mother became very restless and said, “I ought to fix him something he likes. He must be starving.” But Mother advised her not to do it. Three o’clock came, and the child began writing on a placard against the wall, “If you call me just once, I will go to eat.” But my mother advised, “Pay no attention, Just ignore it.” And they went on talking. Unsuccessful in his attempts to interrupt them, the boy finally came right near the mother and stood there silently with his placard: “If you call me just once, I will go to eat.” The mother turned to the child and said, “Of course you may eat now.” He gladly ate the food she put before him. But he never forgot that lesson, and never tried that ploy again. He had learned that he had to eat what was put before him or go without. Hopefully, for his sake, a more disciplined life continued thereafter.
Your love for your children must not be misused. Do not cater to what they want; give what is good for them. Real love teaches them to know the difference between good and bad desires.
YSS Magazine Jan-Mar, 2009
Far better for children to learn at the loving hands of their parents than to go unprepared, naive and foolish, into an unsympathetic world to learn their lessons in the “school of hard knocks.”
YSS Magazine Oct-Dec, 1992