March 25, 2014

Respect: You Get What You Give

When it comes to parenting, I've given up so many things that are considered "the norm".  I generally don't discuss parenting practices in everyday conversation for fear of backlash.   It's not disapproval that I'm afraid of.  I honestly feel that I'm doing the best I can and my decisions are not uninformed.  There are times my decisions don't feel natural.  I was not raised this way, most people I meet were not raised this way.  It has taken me quite a bit of time to accept that most of what I do is natural, it's just generations of learned behavior that makes it feel like it's not. 

Discipline is a tricky thing for parents.  There is so much pressure from everywhere to discipline our children.  If we don't, people assume that we are raising lazy, smart ass kids who feel entitled to have anything they want.  If children aren't disciplined, they will run wild, drop out of school, wear pants that sag and lead unproductive lives.  Most people will tell you that what is wrong with kids today is lack of discipline.

I don't buy it.  I hear people all the time complain about their out of control kids.  They're baffled.  "Why are they still like this?"  "I've grounded him."  "I've taken away all electronics."  "I've forbidden her to hang out with those people."  "She has missed out on parties/trips/fun."  "He doesn't even care if he gets spanked anymore, it doesn't bother him."  I'm willing to bet that most parents of out of control kids have tried to discipline them. 

I keep seeing this pop up on Facebook and it's driving me insane.  I HATE this.  Does hitting another person really bring about respect?  As an adult, if my boss or my employee is disrespectful or not doing their job right, can I smack them to fix the situation?  No.  Hitting does not result in respect.  The results are fear and lack of trust.  I do not believe that it fixes any problems.  The result is lies and sneakiness.  You only try harder not to get caught.  If spanking truly solved any problem, it would only need to be done once in each lifetime.

I don't discipline my children.  I don't believe that it really solves anything.  When Corrina was younger, I disciplined her.  We did time out, I took away TV or computer, I spanked her once.  It was a never ending cycle of anger and frustration for us both.  I realized the other day how much easier life with her is than it used to be and it started getting easier when I gave up the idea of discipline. We are happier and have a much better relationship.

I am far from perfect.  I yell too much, which is something that I'm working on.  I have swatted one of the girls on the behind in the last year.  I felt horrible after.  When we calmed down, we sat down and discussed it.  I apologized.  We talked about how everyone has limits, everyone gets frustrated and angry.  We talked about how it is never OK to hit when you're frustrated or angry.  We learned that adults and children aren't always that different.  

Does all of this mean that my children do whatever they want or have never heard the word "no"?  No.  My children are pretty well behaved and trustworthy kids that are no strangers to disappointment or the word "no".  I try not to expect more than they are capable of at their ages.  We discuss, we teach, we learn, we work things out together.

Does this mean that my children feel entitled?  I hope so.  They should feel entitled to:  make their own decisions, have their own beliefs, be themselves, make mistakes, be respected by others (including adults), dream big, test limits, learn from their mistakes and just be children.

Are there things about your parenting strategies that you hide from others?  Are there any questions I can answer about our lack of discipline?  Feel free to weigh in with your opinion.

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