Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spare the Rod, Save the Child?: Relevant Discipline News

I haven't shared much personal stuff lately, but I am now the mother to two boys, a full fledged 3 year old, and sprouting 7 1/2 month old, and discipline is a constant puzzle we are working our way through one day at a time as the rubber really hits the parenting road. I have some baggage (who doesn't really) from my parental relationships and a few posts/stories in the wake of the newest research that shows strong links to adverse outcomes for children who are spanked are food for thought and discussion in my household of late:

  • I read Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting early on in my first child's life, and I have to admit that while I sorta got what he was saying in theory, I didn't really understand what it would look like in day to day life. Still don't, but working on it. It is undeniable for me however, given my past experiences, that he does make a compelling point that cautions against using parental love and attention as a leverage point in managing your children's behavior. Read more in his recent New York Times health piece.
  • If I'm conflicted about spanking, you can believe the thought of a member of the school's personnel being at liberty to hit my kid, with an implement, doesn't sit well with me at all. (That's an understatement) A city in Texas has revived the use of the paddle in school discipline. Again, I have some personnel experience here. I was a straight and narrow, high achieving third grader who once found herself in the Principal's office facing a paddling because another kid lied and said I was talking about a woman's period (why that would be a paddling offense is a whole other story) in the lunch area. Needless to say the old spelling trick to learn how to properly spell "principal," as in "the principal is your 'pal'" most definitely was voided in that moment. Point is should fear ever be employed in a place of learning? What I was taught in that moment, beyond the fact that women's bodies and functions were something to be ashamed of, was that I was subject to a power beyond myself that would harm me regardless of whether or not it was true or not. I toed the line, for sure, but I felt betrayed and learned to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. Is that the lessons they want to teach?
  • Finally, the HuffPo had a really good post about learning to recognize and respond to "the about to moment" and build the ability to stop and more mindfully choose one's response.

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