August 18, 2012

Postscript: a Q & A

Q:  Well hello, Miss Rantalicious.  Feeling better today?  I hope so, because I've got to point out some irony in your post from yesterday.  You wrote, and I quote, "There are many paths to a destination. Any number of them will get you there. The path you choose (or chose) is not the vaulted One Absolutely Correct and Best Choice. It's simply one path." 

My question is:  Don't you think you are holding your parenting philosophy up as the vaulted One Absolutely Correct and Best Choice

A:  I am feeling better today, thanks.  Not as ranty.  That said, my views have not changed.

To answer your question, no.

And here's why.  I believe in human rights.  That all human beings should live free from physical, emotional, and verbal abuse.  Adults are (legally) protected (should they choose to exercise their legal rights).  If another adult threatens them or pushes or slaps them, there are grounds for arrest.

I don't think that protection should start at age 18.  I think people of all ages should have it.

We can scream and threaten and hit children because it's what we've always done.  Not because they are any less deserving of human rights. 

And I think that's wrong.

So, this really isn't about my parenting philosophy.  It's about extending full human rights to children.

Q:  Hmm.  Okay, but what about what the Bible says about spanking?  You know, like in Proverbs 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."

A:  Maybe the "rod" is used figuratively to mean "discipline", rather than a literal spanking staff. 

I'm all for (respectful) discipline.  I believe kids need our guidance.  Even a little chasteneth-ing on occasion.  But I don't believe screaming and hitting are the best ways to achieve that.  That's not how we treat adult criminals in our country.  Are our kids worse than criminals?   

Q:  So are you claiming that you have never spanked or screamed at Nature Boy?

A:  I am not a yeller, no.  I'm more the hand-on-hip, turkey-necking, hairy-eyeball-giving type.  I believe a good discussion is more effective than screaming.  I think the message gets lost when people yell at each other.  The fight or flight response kicks in and the actual content of the exchange is processed like we're hearing a maniacal version of Charlie Brown's teacher.  WAH WAH WAH, WAH WAH!!!!!!!! W&^$%^$%H!

And the goal of discipline, after all, is to teach right thinking or behavior.  NOT to vent our anger or frustration.

I admit that during Nature Boy's Bam Bam phase (fit-throwing, head-butting, stick-brandishing) in toddlerhood/preschool, I did swat him a few (or 10) times in exasperation.  But I knew that it was because I was losing control.  I always apologized afterward and went back to using time outs. 

I know it's easy for parents to lose our cool.  And that kids can be turds sometimes.  And that it's impossible to be a perfect parent. 

When we make mistakes, we need to apologize--as do our kids.  The problem comes when losing control with our kids is our disciplinary method.   

Q:  Isn't it possible that you are being too sensitive when it comes to people criticizing your kid?  How are kids supposed to learn how to act if adults don't teach them? 

Different people and different situations call for different rules and standards.  How will your child know what the rules are if he's not told?  Are you advocating pint-size anarchy?!

A:  I am sensitive about it because I see the damage excessive criticism does to kids (in general) and to my kid (in particular).  I subscribe to the "magic ratio" theory about positive and negative interactions in our important relationships. 

Am I too sensitive?  Since none of us is the standard of normal, I don't really know what "too sensitive" means.  Am I more sensitive about it than you are?  Probably.  Does that mean that I suffer from an excess of sensitivity?  No. 

I am 100% on board with letting kids know the rules and expectations up front--in a respectful way.  Doing this can prevent the need for correction later.  When kids deliberately break the rules, they need consequences.  Because that's how the world works.  The ultimate goal is to learn from the consequences of their actions.

I am personally a fan of The Hairy Eyeball.  The Long, Boring Lecture works too.  I'm not opposed to grounding kids when they willfully break the rules.  And I think natural and logical consequences are very effective.  One natural and logical consequence for turdy behavior in kids is that they need to GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY so I can preserve my sanity, such as it is.  

Consequences do not need to involve screaming and hitting.  That's all I'm saying.

Wait, actually I'm also saying that I think folks need to pick their battles.  Too often, we lash out at kids because they are irritating us.  Not on purpose, but just by being kids.  But adults get on our nerves sometimes too (or maybe that's just me).  We don't berate another grownup for slurping his soup or neglecting to pick up his trash.  We don't launch into an angry diatribe because the lady behind us is absentmindedly kicking the back of our seat.  (Or if we do, we have issues.)

Kids need discipline, I know.  But if we pick our battles, don't sweat the small stuff, and handle those annoying disciplinary situations with maturity, self-control, and respect, our kids will learn so much more from us.  

Because in addition to learning to follow the rules, they'll also be learning about maturity, self-control, and respect.  

1 comment:

  1. i am guilty of requiring decent table manners always in public and depending on the infraction's severity, at home. I have never raised my voice to Nature Boy at the table or ever swatted him for any reason ever. My decent manner need is ignored totally. I won't berate ppl for crappy manners but neither will I want to go out in public to eat with them and if a date doesnt have good manners, it's a one date experience. Even the rich ones. (true story) Again, not raising my voice, I have also asked ppl on aircraft to keep it in their own seat. So I have issues. :D Dani's mom :):)