Gentle Discipline and Your DP's Culture - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 12-18-2008, 10:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For those of you married to people from other cultures, I'm wondering if you've found any issues regarding gentle discipline. DH is Egyptian... and the culture there is usually not very GD friendly. Kids are still hit in schools with a ruler if they don't do their homework, etc. It tends to be a very authoritarian culture... and obeying one's parents without question is pretty much the norm. I know of people who've been cut-off from family for marrying somebody that their family didn't approve of. (These are people in their 30s, not like teenagers.)

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#2 of 19 Old 12-19-2008, 02:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by umsami View Post
For those of you married to people from other cultures, I'm wondering if you've found any issues regarding gentle discipline.
DH was beaten by his parents when he was young & I think he may have been beaten in school. However, years later his mom decided it was a mistake, and encouraged her daughters not to beat their kids. She's on board w/ our discipline methods. DH is compassionate when he remembers that his parents had very little education and worked VERY VERY hard to support a large family in difficult circumstances.

We mostly try to practice gentle discipline - a lot easier now that the kids are 10 and 12.

However, we are pretty strict w/ rules about media consumption, homework, bed-time, etc. I would describe our ideal as "authoritative" not "authoritarian".

For us, w/ me having grown up very "Free to Be You and Me" and DH, not - we try to balance things and TALK a lot about expectations, how to deal with situations and so forth. Dialogue is very fruitful.
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#3 of 19 Old 12-20-2008, 09:55 AM
 
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though i would insist on GD, and due to the sheer force of my will, succeed, should DP have come from a culture that's less GD friendly, luckily it wasn't an issue. my white-bread australian parents used punitive punishments like spanking and hitting with wooden sppon/ belt, etc, whereas his israeli parents never hit children.

cultural background seems to be the main perpertrator in the perpetuation of non-GD, so it's a challenge to overcome in many cases, but worthwhile to do so

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#4 of 19 Old 12-24-2008, 04:39 PM
 
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I’m happy to see this thread, the topic is near and dear, and also a little bit scary.

DH comes from an authoritarian culture, but even within that context his upbringing was abusive. He doesn’t consider his mother to have been abusive because although she hit him as punishment and used emotional cruelty to make him do things her way, she refrained from beating him black & blue. That was his dad’s department. Dad also beat mom, and older siblings beat younger ones. This all landed up on DH, the youngest of the pile. Of course it messed him up horrifically. Thankfully (as I know it most often doesn’t go this way), it also had the effect of making him into a man who would rather cut his hand off than raise it to another.

He insists that physical punishment is cultural thing, although he acknowledges that it is an old fashioned one and is happy to see it gradually changing. I’ll more or less quote: “when I was growing up Indian parents thought, if they don’t hit their kids they are doing something wrong, I never knew any kids who didn’t get hit, that’s not what messed me up, it was only the overboard beatings that did.” He also considers emotional cruelty & manipulation the norm of parent-child interaction in India.

This is not to say he supports any of this, he thinks it awful. He’s GD, and is hugely proactive in trying to heal himself and learning how to raise a baby with respect rather than violence & manipulation. But man, is it a big issue. We talk about it all the time, seriously, not a week goes by. I’m all about the balancing, but GD is not a negotiable. He HAS to heal from what happened to him so he won’t accidentally perpetrate it, and he HAS to get his family to an understanding that being GD friendly is not optional in their relationship with our babies.

I would love to hear more ideas about how other mamas have approached this. I mean really love, like bended knee begging for anyone to share anything remotely relevant.
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#5 of 19 Old 12-24-2008, 06:59 PM
 
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asha+joy
do you see your DH's parents often? are they proficient in english enough to read a book? something like Unconditional Parenting, would go a long way.
for your DH, I also grew up in an abusive family, who used violence and manipulation. What really helped me to heal from that was rebirthing (a kind of connected breathing process that cleanses emotional traumas through catharsis). For many people something like that can help a lot. perhaps your DH would be open to checking out rebirthing, or any one of the dozens of alternative healing modalities?
I can tell you more about rebithing, if you're interested, but there are lots of different methods for clearing past trauma, and not evey one will work for everyone. it has to 'click' with your DH. Therapy is, of course, the basic method accepted in mainstream society (and alternative). that could also be a good place to start.

for the ILs, I would be very clear, firm, gentle, and unbending in the expectation that gentle discipline and respectful interactions are not negotiable when dealing with their grandchildren. I don't have that problem with my ILs, but we do with DH's ILs . I made it very clear that X is NOT okay, and Y is how we do things. remind them gently, and constantly, and be present to act as a buffer if needed.

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#6 of 19 Old 12-24-2008, 07:07 PM
 
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Oddly enough, many of the Egyptian people most near and dear to my heart are among the most GD-practicing parents I know. As I see it, the added challenge in a GD/non-GD parenting couple that is multicultural over one that is not isn't so much about the non-GD parent's culture itself -- if you're looking at it from most any American POV, after all, you're not exactly looking at it as coming from a greatly GD culture either -- as it is that the non-GD parent can attribute their perspective to culture/tradition/etc, and the GD parent does not have as much basis for questioning that, or might be more hesitant to challenge that.
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#7 of 19 Old 12-24-2008, 08:53 PM
 
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Corpral punishment in public schools is still legal in several US states.

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#8 of 19 Old 12-27-2008, 09:45 AM
 
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This is one that I'm still trying to puzzle out wrt Turkish culture. On the surface, it seems very gentle: kids are treated like kids, not expected to "sit still and be quiet," generally run around and do whatever they want--up to a certain age. However, once they get into upper elementary school years, like 3rd-4th grade, they are expected to "conform." Even then, I didn't necessarily see a lot of physical punishment, but there is a lot of emotional manipulation. Ex: kid acting up on bus, mom says, "You better behave or the bus driver is going to get mad at you and throw you off the bus!" Bus driver nods in agreement and makes a scary face. This is fairly typical and the whole society plays in on it, with mom threatening that random strangers are going to be "mad" at the DC and random strangers playing their parts. Weird.

Thankfully, DH and I don't really have any trouble with GD, but then DS is only 21 months. Who knows what's to come?
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#9 of 19 Old 12-27-2008, 05:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Turkish Kate View Post
This is one that I'm still trying to puzzle out wrt Turkish culture. On the surface, it seems very gentle: kids are treated like kids, not expected to "sit still and be quiet," generally run around and do whatever they want--up to a certain age. However, once they get into upper elementary school years, like 3rd-4th grade, they are expected to "conform." Even then, I didn't necessarily see a lot of physical punishment, but there is a lot of emotional manipulation. Ex: kid acting up on bus, mom says, "You better behave or the bus driver is going to get mad at you and throw you off the bus!" Bus driver nods in agreement and makes a scary face. This is fairly typical and the whole society plays in on it, with mom threatening that random strangers are going to be "mad" at the DC and random strangers playing their parts. Weird.

Thankfully, DH and I don't really have any trouble with GD, but then DS is only 21 months. Who knows what's to come?
My mostly Irish-American sister and her mostly Welsh-American DH do this.

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#10 of 19 Old 12-28-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by majikfaerie View Post
asha+joy
do you see your DH's parents often? are they proficient in english enough to read a book? something like Unconditional Parenting, would go a long way.
for your DH, I also grew up in an abusive family, who used violence and manipulation. What really helped me to heal from that was rebirthing
thank you majikfaerie, for your kindness and advice.

No, we don't see his family often at this point, tho that may change radically if we return to live in India in a few years. They are fluent in English and I loved the idea of DH giving them books that explain our point of view. But when I bounced it off him, he seemed convinced that they would not see the value and not bother to read such a book. But I’m not going to give up on the idea, having access to information could never hurt.

We've got two issues; abuse in itself, and a larger attitude that it is absolutely necessary for children to be forced into being submissively obedient to their parents in all things. The lines of division are muddy as hell, between and even within the issues. Based on our cultural differences, DH defines only a little of his experience as abuse, I define most of it that way. And the cultural dynamic in broaching GD with his family has the potential to be a minefield, seeing as how white foreigners controlled and exploited India or several hundred years. I need to find ways to talk about it that assign due value to my IL’s traditions and experience. Failure to do so will result in being dismissed out of hand as arrogant, disdainful, to "other" to find common ground with... and doom my hopes for real dialogue.

Therapy is one of the things that DH and I have talked to agreement on, tho it took 2 years. Rebirthing sounds like it's definitely worth a look. I need to do some heavy research into techniques of healing. It's a little daunting because there are just so many, and I'm sure I've only heard of a fraction of what’s out there. I confess I don't have much respect for mainstream medical models of mental health. When you started your search for ways to heal, did you happen upon any sources that gave an overview of available alternative methods? If so would you be willing to share? If I could get a handle on what's out there, then we could get a book on each and work toward an informed choice as to what therapies to try.
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#11 of 19 Old 12-28-2008, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oddly enough, many of the Egyptian people most near and dear to my heart are among the most GD-practicing parents I know.
I wish this was the norm Liquesce, but sadly I highly doubt it. In a country where over 67% of women have reported domestic violence, and that at one time sanctioned beating students with rulers for not doing their homework, I really find it hard to imagine a total GD environment. Insha'Allah one day...

http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27926.htm
Quote:
The law does not prohibit spousal abuse; however, provisions of law relating to assault in general are applied. Domestic violence against women was a significant problem and was reflected in press accounts of specific incidents. The Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Affairs conducting a survey of women which found that 67% in urban areas and 30% in rural areas had been involved in some form of domestic violence at least once during a set period between 2002 and this year....Due to the value attached to privacy in the country's traditional society, abuse within the family rarely was discussed publicly.
http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org...rts/egypt.html

Quote:
Almost four out of five boys (79.96%) and 61.53% of girls reported corporal punishment by teachers during one year using hands, sticks, straps, shoes and kicks; more than a quarter of boys and 18% of girls reported that beatings caused injuries. Over 37% of children were beaten in the home by parents as a form of discipline and some were also burned (4.18%) or tied (0.37%). For over 25%, physical injuries resulted such as fractures, loss of consciousness and permanent disability; for 61% injuries included bumps and contusions as well as wounds (53%). For 23% the injuries required
medical-consultation

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#12 of 19 Old 12-28-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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I wish this was the norm Liquesce, but sadly I highly doubt it. In a country where over 67% of women have reported domestic violence, and that at one time sanctioned beating students with rulers for not doing their homework, I really find it hard to imagine a total GD environment. Insha'Allah one day...
Yes, we both know I'm familiar. But the point is not about norms ... the point is that mainstream is not itself either a reason or an excuse, or a be all and end all of a culture itself. Doesn't matter from where. If it was I venture to say most of us presently in the U.S. wouldn't be here on MDC to begin with. There are GD parents in America; it is not the dominant disciplinary concept. Likewise Egypt. So what I'm not clear on is why, when the difference crosses cultures, it is a substantially different issue than when it does not.
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#13 of 19 Old 12-28-2008, 07:11 PM
 
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thank you majikfaerie, for your kindness and advice.

No, we don't see his family often at this point, tho that may change radically if we return to live in India in a few years. They are fluent in English and I loved the idea of DH giving them books that explain our point of view. But when I bounced it off him, he seemed convinced that they would not see the value and not bother to read such a book. But I’m not going to give up on the idea, having access to information could never hurt.

We've got two issues; abuse in itself, and a larger attitude that it is absolutely necessary for children to be forced into being submissively obedient to their parents in all things. The lines of division are muddy as hell, between and even within the issues. Based on our cultural differences, DH defines only a little of his experience as abuse, I define most of it that way. And the cultural dynamic in broaching GD with his family has the potential to be a minefield, seeing as how white foreigners controlled and exploited India or several hundred years. I need to find ways to talk about it that assign due value to my IL’s traditions and experience. Failure to do so will result in being dismissed out of hand as arrogant, disdainful, to "other" to find common ground with... and doom my hopes for real dialogue.

Therapy is one of the things that DH and I have talked to agreement on, tho it took 2 years. Rebirthing sounds like it's definitely worth a look. I need to do some heavy research into techniques of healing. It's a little daunting because there are just so many, and I'm sure I've only heard of a fraction of what’s out there. I confess I don't have much respect for mainstream medical models of mental health. When you started your search for ways to heal, did you happen upon any sources that gave an overview of available alternative methods? If so would you be willing to share? If I could get a handle on what's out there, then we could get a book on each and work toward an informed choice as to what therapies to try.
perhaps if a book is too much, a pamphlet would work?

i never saw an overview like that. I just lived in very alternative healing communities and learned from people. I found some things that work for me.

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#14 of 19 Old 12-28-2008, 07:18 PM
 
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And the cultural dynamic in broaching GD with his family has the potential to be a minefield, seeing as how white foreigners controlled and exploited India or several hundred years.
And during that time the British exploitors liked to say "children are to be seen but not heard."

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This topic hit home for me. My husband (x) was iraqi and I think there was physical abuse in his family. He often said he had to protect his mother from his father. My X saw nothing wrong with slapping my dd1 on the face and did it once. Mind you, I set him straight and told him if he ever did that again I would go to the police and charge him. I am more GD but he was totally the opposite and never understood the way I was doing things. Even though he was the victim of abuse he was trying to carry it on.....one of the main reasons I left him. I am not meaning to diss him in any way but just trying to explain that yes our cultures are/were totally different. As I said, he is iraqi and I am Canadian (england, scotland....). He seemed to think I was spoiling the kids if i didnt use physical discipline and I could not get him to understand or think about the idea that maybe if i could get the same result of good behavior the GD way instead of the physical way that it was healthier for the children....I know he did try to tell me that all iraqis do this which is not true.....I have some close friends who are iraqi and they practice GD. I think it was more his family experience than anything else. Mind you, they do have the same Authoritian approach there. In our case, it was a big reason our marriage ended (not to say all marriages will end that way)....I was not willing to let him physically hit the kids like that and he was not willing to try any other way. It sounds like other PP have had more success
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#16 of 19 Old 12-29-2008, 03:45 PM
 
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I've found DH's culture to be more accepting of children (at adult parties, etc.) but also very authoritarian as well. To be honest, it's a struggle, but we're doing well. DH is open-minded about discipline and is willing to do what works, and when I demonstrate that GD works, he easily adopts that approach.

We run into difficulty when GD isn't producing the behavior DH expects or wants, and then he defaults into the "children must obey" mentality and is a proponent of non-GD measures. It is a challenge since I don't always have an answer/idea ready for him, as I'm always learning new GD approaches, and DD is always changing and demanding ever more creative approaches as well. I have also had to accept that DH will form his own relationship with DD and that as long as he is respectful and caring to DD, his interactions with her may be different from mine but not necessarily better/worse.

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#17 of 19 Old 12-29-2008, 07:51 PM
 
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This thread just jogged my memory of a friend-of-a-friend saying to her in-laws who were from another culture, "No, it's not an American thing. Americans think I'm weird too."
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#18 of 19 Old 01-01-2009, 06:04 PM
 
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perhaps if a book is too much, a pamphlet would work?
: Can I totally use that line on him and not give you credit? I'm not giving up on the book idea, so I could use the ammunition


veronicalynne, I want to personally thank you for sharing your story. it's heart wrenching, I hurt for you. And I also admire you for being so strong in doing what's right for you and your kids. The possibility of something similar happening to the family we hope to build is the reason DH and I spent two years, before getting married, talking about how to go about taking his life & culture and my life & culture and melding them into an "our life & culture" we would both be happy to live and raise a family in. We are still talking. Honestly, I don't want the talking to ever end. I feel that If either DH or me ever withdraws from our constant loving dialogue, I'll be walking that painful road beside you. I can only pray that I'd manage it with as much grace.


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So what I'm not clear on is why, when the difference crosses cultures, it is a substantially different issue than when it does not.
I can give you my take on why it's different.

The goal, and therefor the method of raising children is substantially different in english as first/only language countries. The desired result is for kids to be independent, self motivated people when they are grown, and the methods of raising them are geared to that end. GD is really just a better way of turning out people with those qualities. Yes, GD's different from mainstream, but that difference is small when compared to the huge difference in ideas of child rearing in traditional authoritarian cultures. As Umsami pointed out in starting the thread, children are raised to be submissive to parental authority, even after they are adults. -Obey without question, make the career parents want you to have, marry the person parents pick out for you, take up your assigned role in life, it is your duty to fulfill it, and if you fail to, your responsible for ruining your family. your motivation and your value comes from doing your duty. -that is the message, and independence and self discovery are discouraged at every turn. It's not necessarily about GD that's just the example that comes up here. Even the mainstream way of raising kids is seen as foreign & undesirable, particularly by the older generations.

As for the methods themselves, well, people have lots of qualities & attributes that make them who they are, but no one can escape some of them being the product of their upbringing. And unless something happens to make them choose a different way, the natural tendency is to raise your kids the way your parents raised you. If that included physical and/or emotional violence, it's likely you will continue that cycle even if your culture disapproves & discourages it. I don't find it difficult to imagine how very much more difficult it is to turn away from those ideas when your culture actually approved of them, encouraged them as the right thing to do! It's worth keeping in mind that not every last member of a culture has to hold a belief/participate in a an action for it to be considered normal. And time does change things. The Iraq, Egypt, India, wherever, of today are not the same as they were in the 60's, 70's, 80's. As skreader pointed out, our partners who were beaten don't hold it against their parents, don't think they did anything wrong. It makes perfect sense, because in the context of their time & culture, they didn't!

But now we have a new context, where only one partner comes from that type of culture. The differences that arise in living & raising kids together are not merely personal, there is that cultural dimension to them, and not acknowledging that and working with it hits me as disrespectful and counterproductive, ykwim? Most definitely in talking to my IL's I can't take the tack of saying "well you're barbaric! just because everyone you ever knew knocked their kids around & used emotional cruelty to get them to act the way your culture expects people to act, that's all just excuses and your totally in the wrong" That's possibly the worst way I could ever think tackleing the subject. My IL's are good and loving people, and it's not my place to judge them for the past. They deserve to be treated with respect. My place is ensuring the treatment of my own little family: that the IL's understand DH & my goals and methods in raising our kids are different from what theirs were, and that they need to respect that.

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Originally Posted by eepster View Post
And during that time the British exploitors liked to say "children are to be seen but not heard."
Well, yeah. But that's not so much the problem as the "whites believe they are superior to Indians" thing they left in their wake. Thus the need to be culturally sensitive when talking to my IL's about discipline. History has set us up to be easily alienated, and forgetting that is not really an option if If i want a successful relationship.
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#19 of 19 Old 01-03-2009, 05:50 AM
 
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: Can I totally use that line on him and not give you credit? I'm not giving up on the book idea, so I could use the ammunition
no way. everything I say is copyright. my lawyers will be contacting you.





































okay, because I like you, you can use it

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