How I Ended Up Having An Argument With My Brother Over Discipline VS Rigidity

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My eldest brother lives a good 3hr drive from me and we hadn't seen each other for about 2 years. He suggested to come visit with his wife and kids (and dog!) for about a week in late August and I was really excited at the thought of spending some good quality time with them.

On the day, I picked them up from the train station in the afternoon to bring them home.


Normally if I have people over, I would already prepare something for dinner but this time I didn't as the last time they visited, they did not like my cooking. So I decided to let my sister-in-law do the cooking with me helping out in the kitchen. She was a bit taken aback when I said this to her but as I explained that both my brother and the kids are fussy about their food, she kind of understood where I was coming from and said it was okay.

The Days That Followed

Over the next few days, I found myself struggling to entertain my 3 nephews as they have varying tastes in the things they like to do. Considering they don't have their usual toys and are not in their own home where they'd be a little bit more free to do as they wish, it can become quite boring for them and I didn't want them to think time was dragging on and ultimately wishing for their return date to come quicker. Therefore I tried to arrange as many activities as I could for us to do in an attempt to keep them busy and happy.



However I was also running into a different issue - the cooking. I have a small fridge which is just fine for me and I do my food shopping once a week. With 7 heads to feed, I have to shop every couple of days if not daily. I therefore found myself asking the same thing to my sister-in-law everyday - what are we going to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Her and my brother found it funny at first and probably irritating later on as I repeated myself everyday thinking I worry too much and cannot take things easy but for me, as their host, I was shouldering the responsibility of making sure food was there when we needed to eat.

We would eat at different times everyday, sometimes as late at 8.30pm resulting in me having to skip my workouts as I was needed in the kitchen. My routine was messed up but I was okay with this as it would only be for a week.

The Confrontation

I wanted to take the kids to a soft play area where they can have more fun than at the playground in the local parks. So the day before, I asked my sister-in-law to have dinner ready by 6pm the next day because the kids were going to be really hungry after 3hrs of extensive activity when they are back. She understood.


As I was leaving home to drive to the soft play, my brother and sister-in-law asked me to drop them in town (for them to have a little stroll and check the shops) which is 15 mins by car. It was not an issue for me but I wondered how they were planning to get back, to which they said most likely by bus. My brother cheekily added "Or you can come pick us up" to which I replied "If you really need me to, then that's fine.".


We had a blast at the soft play and at 17:55, I was returning home when I got a call from my brother asking me if I could come pick them up. I dropped the kids and made my way to town. Once they were in the car I expressed my disappointment to my sister-in-law telling her how it had gone past 6pm and dinner was not ready as agreed. My brother quickly stepped in to defend his wife saying that it is what is it and we cannot do anything about this now.

As the lack of organisation especially in regards to food was ongoing since their arrival, I did not want to let it pass without making both of them understand my point of view. I explained that we had agreed for food to be ready by six and this was what I was expecting and now we have a bunch of hungry kids at home which is not okay at all. He told me that the kids won't die because usually when they say they are hungry, the parents tell them food will be ready in 5 mins but then they get fed in an hour's time and it's all fine.

I refuted his argument because I know that when hunger strikes, it's not a plesant feeling and sometimes you cannot think properly. As the kids are dependent on adults and cannot cook for themselves, obviously they will have to eat whenever food is given to them but that's just because they don't have a choice. So me I think meal planning is important in that regard.

Discipline VS Rigidity

Given that my thought process was different to his, he told me that my current lifestyle was too rigid based on his recent observation. He thought I was overly-organised, having set times for doing exercise, planning my meals carefully and having such an organised routine on a daily basis. His approach to life was different; he does not really plan things out but has a basic idea of what to do. He might think he's going for a walk towards the East in the morning but when the time comes he might just go West. He likes having that flexibility and this is what makes life interesting for him. Mine seemed "boring" and he urged me to reflect upon this.

First of all, you should never generalise things based on short term observations. Due to their visit, I was going to bed nearly midnight everyday. Does that mean that's my usual bedtime? No. I've had to adapt in response to what we were doing each day. That's flexibility.

If you had to choose between working out and not, most people would choose the latter. 80% of the time, I don't want to exercise. Why would I choose to squat with 60kgs worth of weight on my shoulders and have my thighs ache when I could just watch a nice movie? This is where discipline comes in.

Discipline is the ability to do the things you know you need to do even when you don't want to do them.

I have a goal, a vision of how I want my body to look like and without discipline, I would not work out as they are so many nicer distractions in the world.

There is a certain balance of protein/carbs/fat that I need to strike for each day, otherwise my workout would be meaningless if I don't feed those muscles the right nutrients. Do you think I can afford to not plan my meals? Doing my food shopping once a week gives me time for other things compared to if I had to shop a few times during the week. It also prevents me from wasting food as I know exactly what I'm eating for my different meals. I don't have to make do with just what's available in the house because I didn't know what I was going to eat.

What others perceive as rigidity is a conscious effort on my part to become more disciplined. Does this mean I have a very rigid routine that stops me from accommodating changes as they arise. Of course not! Just like when I go on holiday, I take a break from exercising and indulge in the sweet desserts readily available in the hotels, similarly when certain situations demand that I divert from my routine, I adapt accordingly. However I think well before incorporating changes which can have a negative impact on my self-growth and try to revert as soon as possible to a more efficient way.

Sibblings will be sibblings

Although we may disagree on some things, that does not mean we despise each other. I have the utmost respect for my older brother and I wouldn't be the person I am today if not for him. Our lifestyles may be different but that's okay; what works for me may not work for him and vice versa.

All in all, I had a really good time with them and the argument we had is not the highlight of their stay. I just wanted to share my thoughts on discipline which I think is very important in life.

gices Level 6
I'm a Software Developer and the co-founder of Clever Dodo. Born in Mauritius and now living in the UK, I usually blog about fitness, music, spirituality and driving topics to pass on my knowledge.
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