Welcome back! Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion. (If not, take a few minutes and read it now but don’t forget to come back!)
Are you ready to delve in a little further? Awesome. Just one quick thing: please remember, these are nothing more than my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences to date. By no means do I consider myself an expert.
I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.
Back to Dictionary.com: Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.
As a noun, it refers to (1) esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.
As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).
I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person does have feelings that need to be considered, something that hit me very clearly one day when my older guy was about eight months old.
We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, this little guy had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go. (He’s still pretty cool that way.) As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying. Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This guy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to his mother’s inability to slow down.
I’d read parenting books—God knows, they abound— and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Lucky for me, a close friend (and mom) would remind me that if there were ONE most effective means, there’d be a lot fewer books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. Currently, I’m browsing through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Came across that one at a case manager’s office at school, and thought I could glean some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s be available through Lent. I’m giving him up to the first willing taker. )
Okay, now that I’ve gotten sidetracked almost beyond repair, I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living. My job is not to make the kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).
Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. When they don’t, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)
This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. When I fight for my way or that instant response to what I tell my kids to do for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!), I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope they’ll be laying out a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, and especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.
We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.
So what are your thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, siblings, grandparents, etc), so don’t be shy!
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