[thechat] The youth today...

Michele Wandrei michele at inthree.com
Tue Nov 26 18:32:01 CST 2002

What a great thread.  I teach parenting.  To recovering addicts.
It seems that my mission in life has become teaching people that
they don't have to hit their kids (or abuse them in other ways)
in order to discipline them.  The word discipline comes from
disciple -- to teach.  Discipline has nothing to do with hitting.

> it's the first "if" that I'm not so sure about.  I personally
> not seen evidence that punishment is effective in the long run
> terms of creating good citizens.  Any punishment.  What I see
is that
> those who are most punished are often the worst behaved.
Chicken or
> egg?

I completely agree.  Punishing may bring short term results, but
long term, it doesn't work.  Why do we need to make kids "pay"
for their wrongs?  It makes more sense to teach them.  That may
mean making amends for their wrongdoing, but we don't have to
extract that pound of flesh to make ourselves feel powerful over

Punishing tends to set up power struggles and then can escalate
into revenge.  When I was spanked and sent to my room, I most
certainly did NOT spend my time reflecting on my misbehavior and
how I could change it.  No, I spent my time figuring out how to
get away with it the next time.

> Because she doesn't know how do it any other way.  It's how she
> raised.  She doesn't understand positive reenforcement.  (The
> offenses in question are IMO very small -- breaking crayons,
> mistakes while practicing piano)

Right on the money.  Parenting isn't something that we inherently
know how to do.  We have to learn, and we usually fall back on
the way we were raised.

My class is at a shelter and the group changes on a regular basis
as people come and go.  Every few weeks we have to start with the
basics when a new class member stands up and says, "when my kids
give me lip, I just beat them down!"

> >I have to say that if she genuinly feels that way over a
> >slap, then there is something profoundly wrong with her

The most important thing I've learned from my class is that our
primary human need, beyond food and shelter, is for belonging and
significance.  If you dig down to the source of most
"misbehavior,"  it usually stems from that need for significance.
That "little slap" is sure to have a negative impact on anybody!

> I was punished while my parents were in fits of rage.  There
> nothing formalized about it, like you describe.  So I can't
> except to say when you open the door to violence against a
> some people don't know how to shut it.

That is the biggest problem we're trying to combat.  As for not
punishing in anger -- if you're going to take the time to calm
down before you spank your child, take the extra time to think of
a truly beneficial solution to the problem.  It's harder, but it

Parenting is not an easy job.  If the kid is screwed up (and this
goes for my kids as well), chances are the kid learned it from
the parent.  I did not choose to have kids, but I have them and I
love them.  I realize that *I* need to make some sacrifices in MY
life in order to raise them right.  I need to make time for them.
I need to pry myself away from work just to sit and talk with
them.  I need to know them and be involved in their lives.

My 47 cents, for what it's worth.

Michele Wandrei
inThree Design

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