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GD Study: Hypothetical Situation #2 - Page 2

post #21 of 39

That makes more sense, thanks for the clarification. 

 

In my example of the "what would you say to the 9 yo", it's easy for me to imagine the child wanting to know what the parent is going to do to ensure their sibling doesn't repeat the behavior. "He didn't even get in trouble, and he's not even sorry, so he's probably just going to do it again" is my attempt at getting inside the head of the 9 yo. The question is what do you tell her to make her confident that you have the situation in hand and are looking out for her.

 

I could easily see telling her that you know she's upset and that you are going to bear her feelings in mind and address the way her brother is acting. After all, that's all she really wants in this scenario--to know something is being done to lessen the chances of this happening to her again. 

 

I couldn't so easily see telling her "I don't want to punish him, so I just let it go. You need to learn to make yourself happy and not rely on other people to do it for you." 

post #22 of 39
Thread Starter 

I've been wanting to add my comments to this thread, but haven't had time until now.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post


If you favor the 'let it go if he won't talk about it' approach, how would you deal with this followup: The 9 yo comes to you later on and says:

 

9 yo: Mom, I don't get it. Owen was really mean to me and he's not even sorry. He didn't even get in any trouble at all. He's just going to do it again. What am I supposed to do?

 

I'm genuinely curious here! I'm open to being wrong. But I'd want to make sure both kids' needs were met, and in this scenario with the "let it go" as I quoted above, I don't think I'd feel I got treated fairly if I were the 9 yo. It might also depend on if this were a one-time occurrence or a repeat pattern. 

 

Well, I can tell you that my 9 year old sometimes does feel just like this - that her brother was mean and that not enough was done to punish him for it or to prevent it from happening again.  She has told me more than once that she thinks I ought to punish her brother when he misbehaves.  (Like most of the people who responded on this thread, I try to stay away from punishment.)

 

The thing is, if the kid is punished he's still probably just going to do it again.  My 6 year old sometimes loses his temper and yells or pushes people or throws things because he's a little kid who can't always control his emotions.  (Though he does usually have enough self-control to avoid destroying other people's things; he wouldn't normally go as far as the kid in my hypothetical example.)  Punishing him won't magically give him the self-control of an older kid.  And punishment definitely won't address the "he's not even sorry" part.  The threat of punishment or being forced to apologize or make amends might make a kid act sorry (though even that isn't guaranteed), but I don't think it does anything to encourage real remorse; in fact, it probably makes it less likely. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

What happens between the 6 year old and the parent is really a private thing. What matters is that the issue is addressed and things change for the 9 year old. She may feel that the parent's interaction with the 6 year wasn't what she wanted to see happen, but that is not her choice, she is not the parent. What she does have the right to expect is that things WILL change for her.

 

I like this way of looking at it - that what's important is that the 9 year old feels that the problem is being addressed.  I think I could probably work harder to help my DD feel that way in the future.  But the truth is (and my 9 year old and I both know it) that no matter how I address it, the 6 year old is probably just going to do it again.  Because he's only 6 and even if he understands intellectually, when he's calm, that yelling at people doesn't make them likely to want to play with him and that hitting is not okay no matter how angry you are, he's still going to get too upset sometimes to act in accordance with that knowledge.  I'm not quite sure what I think about the idea that the 9 year old has the right to expect that things will change.  Parents don't always have the ability to easily change things for the better.  If the 9 year were really being made miserable, I guess I'd agree that the parents ought to work hard to make some kind of change.  But a certain amount of sibling strife just seems to be inevitable, and I'm not sure kids have the right to expect that their parents will somehow be able to make it go away. 

post #23 of 39

This sort of thing is largely why we moved homes. The kids needed their own spaces to do as they like. We have a rule now that if you want to do something without anyone bugging you, you need to do it in your own room. (People can share small spaces and still get alone time and space, as I well know, from living in 600 square feet with 4 people for 5 years, but... there are limits to it.) So first off, to ward off this happening in the future, DD would be directed to do such work in her room, and DS isn't allowed in her room without her permission. Also, DD would be free to say that she doesn't want to play with him for a day or a week or however long she doesn't want to play with him, depending on how big a deal what she was working on was. 

 

For the immediate term, DS would have a time out, away from his sister and from me both. He'd have to stay in his room until he could control his temper. He can rant and rave and throw stuff around in his own room as he likes, but it will have to be picked back up and put right when it's clean up time the next morning, and he can't mess with anyone else's property in the process. If DS is wandering around looking for a playmate, I'm already occupied with something or he wouldn't be bugging DD, frankly. If I'm doing a work project while both kids are home and awake, it has to be crucial. If I'm making dinner or doing something else, I'm not available to play. So I wouldn't do any of the "clearly DS needs more attention at that moment, so play with him" solutions, because sometimes one of the kids may really want, or even need something, but it is just not possible at that moment and they have to wait. I don't think "wait until after I make dinner" is unreasonable for a 6 year old, even though they may not like it.

 

Oh, and I think this also does teach what I'd like them to learn, which is, you are responsible for your own actions. If you're angry, find a way to vent them that does not affect other people adversely. If they go into their rooms alone when they're angry until they've calmed down, I don't see this as a bad strategy. 

 

One of the reasons I am not unconditional parenting oriented is that frankly, I don't have time for it. I think DH might like to do it, as he's very much that way with parenting, and I don't mind if he does more negotiating and more talking about it, but I just don't have time for the endless talking on and on over and over and over. The radical unschoolers I know tend, honestly, to do 1/4 or less of the extra curricular activities we do, and/or they have 1 kid. I work, homeschool, and do twenty-million activities that the kids have chosen and love doing. Personally, I think all those activities we do are more important than learning social skills through exploration as in unconditional parenting style versus learning them through direct instruction as in my more authoritarian style, but YMMV. 


Edited by LitMom - 12/7/12 at 12:33am
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
You bring up a very important philosphical issue that goes far beyond conflict between siblings, and is very relevant to our culture. The question is: Does a victim need to have their needs met, or does a victim need to see that the offender is punished? It seems in our culture, that many victims do not feel satisfied or able to move beyond their wounds until the victim is properly punished. Our criminal justice system is set up to focus on punishment rather than restitution.  For instance, many victims are not happy when their offender only gets life in prison and not the death penalty - I've seen victims' families cheer when the judge announced the death penalty. From the victims' perspective, how can it really make a difference - they are not at risk of being hurt again by this person. But something about a public acknowledgement that what this person did was so bad that we have to put him to death is satisfying to the victim, and I believe that is not an innate need in humans (to see their offender punished) but is a twisted, sad, culturally maladaptive displacement of their real needs - the real needs being to feel safe again, to heal, to be able to love and feel joy and go about their lives without fear. 

 

 

In a death penalty kind of case though, I think it is often a need to know that the person can't come after one's family or oneself though. Life often means a certain number of years, and then the possibility of parole. The victims families are going to have to keep going to hearings to testify to keep the perpetrator from getting out on parole, and if a family member had been murdered or seriously injured and I'd testified against them, I would definitely worry that they might kill me when they were paroled. It's not always about punishment as opposed to safety in that situation. 

post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by LitMom View Post

 

In a death penalty kind of case though, I think it is often a need to know that the person can't come after one's family or oneself though. Life often means a certain number of years, and then the possibility of parole. The victims families are going to have to keep going to hearings to testify to keep the perpetrator from getting out on parole, and if a family member had been murdered or seriously injured and I'd testified against them, I would definitely worry that they might kill me when they were paroled. It's not always about punishment as opposed to safety in that situation. 

 

You might be right, although I do know that most families say afterwards that the automatic appeals when the death penalty is given are far more numerous and thus traumatic than the life in prison parole hearings, which in really bad crimes usually don't ever come up (since often in such cases the offender is given multiple life sentences with no hope of parole).  One of the arguments against the death penalty is that it is really hard on families because it takes so long to get to the actual death part. Decades, sometimes.

 

I can see how it would feel better to have your offender be dead and gone with no risk of ever coming back to get you. But I don't think either the death penalty or the life sentence in prison gives that reassurance, at least not for a long time. Well at least not in the USA. I know in some other countries the death can occur pretty quickly after the sentence and in that case, I think you are right about the relief the victim and victim's family must feel.  But I also think in those few countries, life in general is way more oppressive than it is here, so I'm not sure its a good tradeoff.

 

I think it is part of life that no child can ever be guaranteed that anything will never happen again. Somehow we need to teach resilience, so that its not about making bad things go away forever, but having the confidence that you can handle the bad things that come.

post #26 of 39

Regarding the need for assuring that the offense wouldn't happen again, we had to tell our kids over the years that it would.  That we believe it takes years to learn how to treat ourselves and one another.  I made sure to explain it in terms of something each of them was battling (a short temper, needling, what have you), and often would have to throw in an explanation of something DH or I was still working on in our adult life.  The only assurance we felt able to give was that we'd stay on it as best we could and follow through to find something each child needed.

 

I have to tell you, though, I was relieved beyond reason when I was *finally* able to point out progress each one of them had made to his brother! 
 

post #27 of 39

Chiming in to say that I (think) I would have handled it like some of the early PPs. I would address the child who had been hurt. For me, probably in front of the 6 year old. Perhaps asking them to help fetch something to help fix the situation. I'd pay close attention to whether the 6 year old was ramping back up or if her being there was bothering the 9 year old. If so, I'd ask the 6 year old to find something to do or, perhaps, go in another room with the 9 year old. I sometimes feel that dealing with problems can have the same desired effect as a punishment without so much perceived meanness. So, if breaking your sibling's project means that they are busy even longer repairing the project and now mom is busy too helping, that is a big deterrent. One doesn't need to "turn it into" a punishment. 

 

I also don't know how I would feel if the 9 year old needed to know the 6 year old had been punished. My kids are too far apart for us to have that issue yet. I suspect I would feel like that was a somewhat negative personality trait, and I think I would want to address that for my 9 year old in another way than by punishing the 6 year old for his benefit. Though, I think if the 9 year old was not punished he would not likely want to see the 6 year old punished. 

 

If this were a repeated thing, I think I would try to structure the family life to avoid. Maybe the 9 year old gets a special space to work in private. Maybe the 6 year old has more playdates, visitors and etc. I think I'd also try to find some activities the two kids could do together to meet the 6 year old's need to be close with the sibling. I'd invest a lot of energy in that, I think. 

 

Good hypothetical!  

 

Who wants to go next?? 

 

Did everyone check out Mittsy's NVC thread? It's great! 

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1369377/non-violent-communication-and-parenting/20#post_17195998

post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post

I also wouldn't want my daughter (or my son, but particularly my daughter) to absorb the message that she's the only one in charge of making herself happy and that nobody else has any obligation to treat her nicely. Working on the happiness coming from self thing, sure, but I also want to raise her to expect decent treatment from people who she is in close contact with, and to be able to speak up and assert her needs when she's not getting it. 

 

I apologize in advance for the digression from the thread, and again for totally nit-picking this comment, but I think I *do* want my kids to absorb the message that they're in charge of making themselves happy.  I'd like for them to understand that they cannot control other people's thoughts, emotions, or actions, and that if they are being mistreated in a situation, they can leave.  

 

I mean, I guess my take on it is that yes, you deserve to be treated decently, but no one is under an obligation to do so.  People in your life should want to treat you well, and if they aren't, you change it to the extent of your ability.  

 

Having no experience with kids this age, it's hard to say how I'd handle it, but I think that 6 and 9 are old enough to be contributing to the problem solving process.  I'd probably try to host and guide them in figuring it out, focusing on what we can do to move forward, not on the indiscretions.  Later, when the waters are calm again, I might try to re-hash what happened leading up to the conflict and try to give them the tools to avoid it in the future.  6 year old can get a lesson in respecting a desire to be left alone, come up with alternative activities when big sis is occupied and doesn't want to play (read a book with mom, etc).  Then older sis can remind her next time it happens, and taught to say something like, "Hey, I'm busy and would like to be left alone.  Why don't you read a book with mom until I'm finished."  If it's a recurring problem, maybe there can be a ground rule that if 9yo is in her room or sitting on her bed or in a specified location, she is to be left alone.  That way she can have a safe zone where she can go and know she isn't going to be pestered.  I would try to run interference and occupy the younger sibling during those times.

post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by luckiest View Post

 

I apologize in advance for the digression from the thread, and again for totally nit-picking this comment, but I think I *do* want my kids to absorb the message that they're in charge of making themselves happy.  I'd like for them to understand that they cannot control other people's thoughts, emotions, or actions, and that if they are being mistreated in a situation, they can leave.  

 

I mean, I guess my take on it is that yes, you deserve to be treated decently, but no one is under an obligation to do so.  People in your life should want to treat you well, and if they aren't, you change it to the extent of your ability.  

 

That sounds reasonable. I just would want to make sure that I meet the needs of both children, and I saw some things on this thread that seemed sort of dismissive of the older child and saying she just needed to deal with it and make herself happy. While I know that problems are going to occur within a family and it's unrealistic to think everything will always be fluffy bunnies, I think it benefits kids to know that their parents have an eye on the problems and are trying to improve the situation, and that they aren't left to twist in the wind and fix everything by themselves. 

post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post

I don't know what any of these alphabet soup of theories are, and I have one kid who is only 1 1/2, so I don't have a lot of constructive solutions on this situation--I'm mostly just reading and learning here. I would be concerned in this instance, though, about how the 9 yo is going to view it if her brother badgers her to play, destroys her stuff, hits her, doesn't apologize, and then has Mom just let him off the hook when he refuses to talk about it. This might be gentle to the 6 yo but doesn't really demonstrate that mom has the older child's back as well. jmho. 


Exactly. My younger brother treated my this when we were young, and it just got worse as we got older. My parents' inaction allowed him to abuse me verbally and sometimes physically for years. He destroyed my belongings and invaded my privacy, and once, when I confided in him about a friend of mine, he turned around and told her all about it, just for the reaction. Now, as adults, he has stopped speaking to me over a something he believes I said but didn't, and no one in my family will stand up for me, even though they know I'm right because they fear his response.

 

From what I know of is marriage, he is very controlling and is likely verbally/ emotionally abusive to his wife. He is very intelligent and has a big ego, and doesn't like to be challenged. Most people who meet him don't realize that a lot of what he says is BS and manipulation. No one ever stopped him and just said outright "this is unacceptable" or "you cannot treat someone like that". Instead, they made excuses and praised his intelligence, and I always had to "compromise' because I was the older one, and I grew up to be a doormat.

 

My parents didn't punish, and it worked well for me. I became empathetic and understanding of natural consequences by always talking it out. But it didn't work for him.

 

I know this is extreme, and that there are a lot more factors involved, but I wanted to stress the importance of the child at the receiving end of these behaviors feeling like they are protected and learning what is not an acceptable way to be treated. For me, it is only in hindsight that a realize how bad and abnormal it was, and that I should have asked for outside help, and probably called the cops a couple times when we were teenagers, but I didn't know how to stand up for myself, or that I had reason to.

post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by silversparrow View Post

 

My parents didn't punish, and it worked well for me. I became empathetic and understanding of natural consequences by always talking it out. But it didn't work for him.

 

I know this is extreme, and that there are a lot more factors involved, but I wanted to stress the importance of the child at the receiving end of these behaviors feeling like they are protected and learning what is not an acceptable way to be treated.

A good point to keep in mind. All kids are different and one philosophy may resonate well with one child and not with another. I still don't think that means that there are kids who will only relate to punishment but I agree that what works for the 9 year old may not work for the 6 year old. 

 

I do think that every parent here posted something to the effect that would let the 9 year old know that the parent did not think that it was ok to treat your sibling that way. I think that punishment is not the only way to bring that across. In fact, IME, punishment would be one of the more ineffective ways. One of the reasons I'm not a fan of punishment is because (bringing this back to the CJ system) I think punishment lends itself to the perp (ha!) feeling like they have "done their time". I know that at 11 my DC views punishment as the easy way off because it allows her to have some sort of closure and be done with it. It's an easier way to FEEL like you've fixed a problem but I don't think it actually does fix a problem (in most cases) better than reflection, prevention, rectification, and etc. 

 

As far as BC's comment about "letting it go" I assume she means that after some work has been done. I do agree that some space and forgiveness is a healthy thing and it helps everyone. The 6 year old has the benefit of renewed positive expectations and the adult and 9 year old practice forgiveness and understanding. Of course without all the work ahead of time and without good intentions, it's just permissive parenting. But that's a whole other thing. 

post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by erigeron View Post

I also wouldn't want my daughter (or my son, but particularly my daughter) to absorb the message that she's the only one in charge of making herself happy and that nobody else has any obligation to treat her nicely. Working on the happiness coming from self thing, sure, but I also want to raise her to expect decent treatment from people who she is in close contact with, and to be able to speak up and assert her needs when she's not getting it. 


I really want to respond to this as it seems this was directed at my last post. I'm really confused as to where you got the "she shouldn't expect respect from others" from my previous post, I'm needing some clarification on this. I stand by what I said, I do believe we are all in charge of making sure our own needs get met I don't believe we should rely on others to meet our needs, but that absolutely doesn't mean we should put up with disrespect....

post #33 of 39
Physical and emotional safety is a need that can't always be met independently. That is why kids have parents and why there are women's shelters to protect women as they learn the skills they neee to protect themselves.

I only had one child because having a sibling was incredibly horrible growing up and i didn't want to do that to my child to go through that. It was a long path towards forgiving my brother and having a relationship.

Speaking only to the destruction aspect, I think six is pretty old to be regularly destroying things still so if my child was doing that I would change parenting strategies.
post #34 of 39

I have 8 siblings and we rarely had fights and are all fairly close and kind to one another. My parents we also not big on punishments. I think all of us were punished at least once but it was a last resort that seemed to come out for the most serious things that they had tried to manage in other ways first. So, for someone like me, the thought that the 9 year old would feel in danger in the home is very far from my personal experience. I would handle things much, much differently if I felt any of my children did not feel safe in their own home. 

 

...but I think that is a fairly unusual place to go with this particular example. 

 

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn when I say that I wonder how common the types of experiences SS and OG had with their siblings occur in homes with reasonably effective discipline and relatively healthy family members. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but am I being naive to assume that it is somewhat rare? 

post #35 of 39

I am seeing this example as a great way to illustrate all the different lessons that we manage to pack into our daily lives and interactions. I don't think teaching these children that they are responsible for their own happiness excludes teaching them to respect and be kind to their sibling, or that other people need space, or that no matter what their parents will protect them, or that you forgive your family when they make a mistake, or how to fix something you have messed up or any of this. I think all of these lessons can be touched on at once. 

post #36 of 39
I think my family was healthy and functional and that it really has more to do with personality, percieved fairness, and the frequency of sibling issues. I was convinced my mother loved my brother better and didn't seem to care that I was hurt, I am not the type of person who forgives someone who repeatedly hurts me or my things (relative or not), and my mother wasn't effective. I don't know about teaching forgiveness unless it also comes with making it clear that repeated harmful behavior isn't okay. I don't think punishment has to be the way to go but I do think a change is the way to go if one way isn't effective. I don't have to watch my dd go through this though so I may be way off base with the level of caring kids who have siblings are capable of. My brother and I didn't have a lot of caring for each other. I do know that when one gentle approach doesn't work for my dd it works to find another though.
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post


I really want to respond to this as it seems this was directed at my last post. I'm really confused as to where you got the "she shouldn't expect respect from others" from my previous post, I'm needing some clarification on this. I stand by what I said, I do believe we are all in charge of making sure our own needs get met I don't believe we should rely on others to meet our needs, but that absolutely doesn't mean we should put up with disrespect....

My posts have been more directed at BellinghamCrunchie. Her statement that if she couldn't get the younger child to discuss the issue with her she would "let it go" really got under my skin, and in her follow-up post she said that she would teach her daughter that she's responsible for her own happiness. I could see the potential for the combination of these two approaches, if done repeatedly, to add up to one child being essentially taught that she just needs to tolerate her sibling's mistreatment, because she's responsible for her own happiness and because her parents aren't going to pursue anything with the sibling (they let it go). If this happened only occasionally it probably wouldn't be a big deal to shrug it off and teach the kid to shrug it off occasionally, but it shouldn't be allowed to become a recurring pattern. One_Girl and silversparrow discussed the negative effects of this dynamic on their lives. I don't think this is what BellinghamCrunchie was advocating, but I do think it's an effect of "letting it go" taken to an extreme that someone who employs that technique should watch out for. 

post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I don't have to watch my dd go through this though so I may be way off base with the level of caring kids who have siblings are capable of. My brother and I didn't have a lot of caring for each other. 

hug2.gif

 

It's really difficult for me to imagine my two kids not caring for each other. I would, though, discipline with the kids' relationship in mind and if they were going through a really rough time (on top of the hypothetical situation given), I would certainly factor that in. 

post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

 

I hope I'm not speaking out of turn when I say that I wonder how common the types of experiences SS and OG had with their siblings occur in homes with reasonably effective discipline and relatively healthy family members. I'm not saying it doesn't happen but am I being naive to assume that it is somewhat rare? 

 


I think that, as a child, I was led to believe that it was normal sibling rivalry. But talking to friends about their sibling relationships over the years, it really wasn't. I think real sibling rivalry is normal competitiveness and bickering, with occasional physical fights, but back and forth... more even... not just one sibling always after the other. I haven't met many people with similar experience.

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