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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been thinking about something, and wanting to put words to it. Bear with me, and I'm sorry if it sounds like preaching to the choir! Please feel free to help me refine my thoughts. (I'll be taking these thoughts to a group of spanking parents on another board eventually, and quite possibly IRL at some point.)<br><br>
When we hear about discipline, we usually think about what behaviors we are modelling to our children. How we live (on a moral level) does influence what our children learn and how they behave to a large extent.<br><br>
But I feel like a lot of people (not at MDC) miss the fact that <b>How you interact with your child models proper human behavior in the most intense and effective possible way.</b> Yes, kids are looking to make sure you don't cheat people in life, steal things, disrespect others, etc. but if you turn around and threaten, cohearse, berate, or belittle your child, then you are NOT modelling moral behavior! <b>How you treat your child is part of living your life.</b> Modelling good behavior MEANS -- being gentle, honest, strong, and humane in the way you interact with your kid.<br><br>
The *way* you discipline your child teaches them more about how to behave than whatever issue you are discipling over. They may learn the specific lesson (or not) but they *will*internalize the way that you treat them, and it will become a part of who they are and how the get by in the world.<br><br>
To teach dignity, strength, and goodness, it is necessary to use dignitfied, strong and good methods.
 

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Yes, mamaduck, I am very confused by this, too. We wish to teach respect for oneself and others, cooperation, and non-violence. How can we possibly feel we are teaching these important values/skills, if our teaching method involves disrespect, coercion and attack (either verbal or physical)? It seems to me that those harsher discipline methods rely on the idea that "the end justifies the means," and yet isn't that exactly what we are trying to counsel our children against? Like, "do as a I say, not as I do"-?<br><br>
I guess that our culture in general is very "external" focused, very "product" focused (sort of an extension of our materialism). In a way, achieving the desired behavior is a product. Who wants a kid to behave in outward respect while internally seething and eager to find an outlet for his anger? Or a child who learns to behave as adults wish him to, having learned to distrust his own inner feelings and ideas? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/confused.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Confused">:<br><br>
Maybe this is founded on the idea that might really does make right, and that the parent stands behind the double standard; I am exempt from the respect rule because I am The Parent. But then doesn't this also mean: "When you have more power than someone else, you, too, are exempt from needing to treat people with respect."--? It just all seems so contradictory, I can't find a way to explain it that really makes sense. Am I missing something?<br><br>
Gentle discipline focuses on the process, the purpose being to instill values and hone skills, not just produce a particular outward manifestation. It seems to me that in gentle discipline, "the medium is the message." The process that we go through with our children, and the process that they go through in responding, is what it's all about. We must focus on supporting children in acquiring their own self-discipline and genuine skills. Connecting our methods of discipline with our fundamental message seems like Step One in disciplining effectively and with integrity.<br><br>
I don't always treat my children with respect, but I see that as a problem I am trying to solve within myself, not a disciplinary strategy. Any time I slip and let disrespect enter into my discipline I feel I am undercutting the process (even if I get the desired effect in the short term). The more I honor them and their process the more effective I feel as a parent, and the more I feel I am helping my children really bloom as independent and competent individuals! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="love">
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I was thinking of "might makes right" as well. "Do as I say because I'm the parent and I say so." What is that message teaching? Nothing about what is truly right.<br><br>
My children (I hope) believe my words and listen to my advice because they trust me. Not because they fear me. I hope they carry that principle into their lives far beyond their relationship with me. Listen to those you trust -- not those you fear.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Connecting our methods of discipline with our fundamental message seems like Step One in disciplining effectively and with integrity.</td>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> I agree, and this is well put. What gets scary is when parents have a fundamental message that lacks integrity. I'm never sure what to say then. When a parent says, "Yeah, I want my kid to grow up fearing and obeying those with power." All I can think, is "REALLY??"
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;"><i>Originally posted by mamaduck</i><br><b>What gets scary is when parents have a fundamental message that lacks integrity. I'm never sure what to say then. When a parent says, "Yeah, I want my kid to grow up fearing and obeying those with power." All I can think, is "REALLY??"</b></td>
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Okay I think we're getting somewhere. If that's the parent's world view then I can understand why they'd want to bring domination/submission into their parenting. There's a consistency there.<br><br>
For my part, I strongly do not share this world view and that's not the world I want to indoctrinate my children into. I guess I'm a rebel by nature, but I want my child to grow up with her own sense of personal power. I want her to be savvy about what battles she chooses to fight, but I don't want her to live a diminished life out of fear and obedience to those who wield more power than her. And similarly, I want her to live her humanity to the fullest, which I think can only be done when you honor others and yourself, when you see the humanity in others and act accordingly (domination/submission is so dehumanizing). I look out and I see the world as broken/hurting in many ways and I want to heal it, and I feel that in raising children who are whole, and who do not wish to dominate others or submit their own power out of fear, I am sending forth a healing into the world.<br><br>
To those you quoted, I must seem like a hopeless idealist. I don't think this is a point that can be debated, so much as a fundamental difference in world view. World views can shift, but they aren't so much a matter for debate IMO. What do you think?
 

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This is an interesting discussion. As I have told my DH, "positive discipline is the goal, gentle discipline is the method." More than anything, I hope that when DD leaves for college, she leaves with a sense that choices she makes are guided by an inner voice which is not ruled by fear of consequence, rather by pride of the "right" choice (whatever that may be). Some people might refer to it as morals but I don't look at it quite that way. Moral is part of it but there is ethical, consciousness raising, empathetic and other elements that I hope become part of her inner voice.<br><br>
Now the hard part: how to accomplish it! Well for me it's relatively easy because I really don't treat DD any differently than any other person on the planet (except I may not tell a stranger that he can't have pudding until he finishes his broccoli! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> ) But seriously, I treat DH with the same "gentle discipline" if you will that I treat DD: when I'm not happy with him, I tell him so in a way that I think he can hear me, with respect and emotion but not like a crazed lunatic. I expect him to speak to me with the same respect, to appreciate the things I do (another VERY important lesson for kids - teaching appreciation without berating them with guilt), to treat me in a loving and gentle way. All of these expectations are borne out of my treatment of him. It is the very same for DD - I treat her, in short, the way I would want to be treated by my mother.<br><br>
Just because someone doesn't hit does not a gentle discipliner maketh (if I can get a little biblical here). Gentle discipline requires respect, compassion, empathy, choices - the final goal is to leave the "disciplinee" with their dignity intact. It's the same way I would interact with anyone.<br><br>
In an earlier thread about GD, a poster asked "how did you come to convince your DH" or some such thing (I hope I'm not violating any TOS's with that) and my response was that I told DH that I have spent months if not years researching my discipline methods. I have attended lectures, read countless books, gone on chatboards, all have helped me to arrive where I am. DH has not spent five minutes "thinking" about discipline methods, he simply imposes the ones that he got when he was growing up. That got him thinking.<br><br>
Unfortunately, I think that there will always be a substantial population of people who are not as "evolved" (for lack of a better word) emotionally. They don't recognize their own issues and they really don't think anything is wrong. I know lots of emotionally unhealthy people, some are quite scary. If they haven't come to it themselves, how to help their children?<br><br>
I admire what you are doing mamaduck. Can you give us more details?
 

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This thread reminds me of a wonderful commercial I saw a while back on the Knowledge Network. It starts out with a woman driving in a car among heavy traffic. The announcer says "what if everything you did, all day long, was being videotaped". A guy cuts this woman off and she proceeds to yell at him and make a nasty gesture. Then it goes through various scenarios where you might be embarrassed if you were being taped and someone played it back to you...then the announcer says "well if you have children, you are" and they show the little kids in the background, watching with wide eyes. The announcer goes on to remind us that children are like sponges, that they absorb everything, and learn their behaviours more from watching us than what we say.<br><br>
I think too many parents REALLY don't understand this, at it's most fundamental level. They think if they manage certain foreseen, practiced circumstances that they are teaching their kids something, when it's the day-to-day interactions and scenarios that count.
 
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