Friday, July 11, 2014

Gentle Parenting: Part Two

If I were to field questions and concerns about Gentle Parenting, they might involve the sense that we contribute to moral decline by not responding in a severe enough fashion.  Every generation has these "new" observations about how some perceived license is killing true liberty.  Socrates (5th Century BC) and Plato both complained of this moral decay.  Every generation thinks the next is taking us to hell in a hand basket, as LR Knost and Alfie Kohn point out.

As we consider traditional discipline understood as punishment, I probably don't need to talk about physical versions in that even those who spank should now understand that the research is conclusive and shows it to be harmful.  Still, there are "experts" who teach it; and there are still more of us who practice it.  As Knost points out, not that long ago we also thought it was okay to for husbands to keep their wives in line by slapping them around.  As late as 1987, Sean Connery was telling Barbara Walters all about it.  Why are even more defenseless people with even greater needs (aka children) more deserving of violent response?  The calm premeditated crimes warrant harsher criminal justice than do the crimes of passion (Knost's observation) so why would we teach parents to calmly spank their children for their own good?

90% of parents admit to spanking their children, according to Knost.  If 90% of us spank, surely it's because we are on a default setting where we just haven't thought enough about it?  As Aldort, Siegel and Markham point out, we need to deal with our own personal past/issues so that we don't enact/force that pain on our own children.

Enough of the negative.  How can I support my child with Positive Parenting?  Here's how it effects us (via Jennifer Kolari):


But consider the words "authority" and "discipline" for a moment.  Those are indeed very important aspects of my roll as a parent, and they feature strongly in helping our kids thrive.  Jack Petrash reminds that "authority" comes from the very same root as "author."  It harkens to a creative leadership where the parent steers the ship of story, writing the way there.  Guiding.  "Discipline" is about discipleship.  It's about leading in a way that others want to follow you.  If I want my child to develop self-control, I need to model that by, ya know, having some--staying calm.  Check out the research on mirror neurons and young children--especially fascinating!

And as regards attachment, they are wired to follow us--they need to.  (Otherwise, they will follow their peers instead.  The blind leading the blind, a society devoid of true elders--sound familiar?)  Nothing I've said here is all that original, and I've asked myself how so many of us can still be causing harm rather than guiding with effective discipline for so many years of our human history.  Like all areas of science, we keep learning.  There are many dots that weren't connected until fairly recently.

Some questions I hear and have felt along the way:

But don't we deserve punishment?  Don't you follow some moral code or Bible or?

How am I the leader/in charge if I don't punish them?  How do they know I'm the boss?  Why would they want to follow me?  How am I supposed to be powerful and supportive that way?

How do I correct them "gently" without condoning bad behavior?

Give me a for instance?  How should we respond to such-and-such scenario?

We'll come to those soon.


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