In the wake of the Adrian Peterson controversy, I thought about this piece I wrote about a year ago on a then new-to-me way of disciplining my children called gentle or positive parenting. Before then I’d never known anyone to take a vow not to punish, yell at, hit or otherwise try to manipulate or control their children in the name of discipline. I grew up in a household that rarely physically punished and was generally along the lines of positive parenting. There were times, however, when I was pinched, yelled at, punished (e.g., being grounded, had things taken away) and such, but overall I was a kid who wanted to please and tended to stay out of trouble. I have always been someone who can be reasoned with, so I knew punishing me was not effective then, and, fortunately for my children, I know that there were better ways of discipline. Other kids my age had a much different experience. I knew many children who were disciplined by their parents through hitting, punishing, and/or being kicked out and sent away to live with the other parent and ended up either being fearful of their parents or chose apathy and just didn’t give a care. I always told myself that I’d be a different type of parent, and that I’d not only be my children’s guide, I’d be their friend. I still strive to achieve that balance to this day. Many people will not agree with my stance, but that’s none of my concern. I want to show my kids respect, patience, unconditional love and understanding, cooperation, give them opportunities to stand up for themselves, to be heard, and to have a childhood in which they can soar, instead of one that they have to recover from.
Many will say that discipline means you love your child enough to punish them right now so someone else doesn’t have to in the future. Many will tell you, with confidence, that they are better for being punished as children and that they wouldn’t be where they are without it. Many will say that the lack of punishment, especially physical punishment, is why children are out of control today. To all of that, I say this:
No one, especially a child, is better off because of punishment. Children are little souls who are programmed to imitate what they see in hopes of learning how to survive and thrive as adults. If we do not show them, through our everyday actions, how to become conscious, loving, patient, understanding, and cooperative adults with self-control, how will they learn?
No parent is perfect, likewise, no child is either. However punishment, including abusing a child through verbal, physical, mental or spiritual means, is not discipline. It’s emotion overcoming logic. Logically parents want the best for their children, and, as a parent, it may not always be clear on how to achieve that goal. I’ve found through my own experience to seek knowledge outside of my circle of family and friends and my upbringing in order to find more effective and long-lasting ways to uplift my children in the name of discipline. I want to be their shepherd and that means using my rod to guide and protect them, not to beat and punish them. I’m sure y’all know what I’m referring to here. We’re in the information age, peeps. It’s time to become informed on better ways to help our children becomes the awesome adults we know they’re here to be.
Last year, I also started a Facebook group for parents who were ready to shift their paradigm to change their lives, the lives of their children, and their family tree. The group is still active and accepting new members. We’re not a talkative group, but we do offer tons of information on how to parent from a positive place, as well as support for doing so. If you’re interested, please send a request to join and we’ll approve you right away.
So, if you’re ready to move in this new direction, here are some things that you can do to get started:
- Make a written commitment to become a better parent through disciplining in a positive, uplifting way and post it where you and your family can see it.
- Join the Facebook group for information and support.
- Actively seek positive parenting blogs, groups, podcasts, YouTube videos, and books to help you find what works for you and your children.
- Educate yourself on child development. Having realistic expectations of where children are developmentally can diffuse a problem before it arises.
- Be willing to be release old behavior patterns to allow for better ones to take hold. This will be not easy or quick, but it’s absolutely imperative to this journey.
I’ve done all of the items personally and continue to struggle on a daily basis. And that’s OK. I’m moving forward, and can not only see my growth, but I can see the opportunities I still have for more growth. The coolest thing I’ve noticed so far that is that I can either catch myself before I go to punish or immediately catch myself afterward. When it’s the latter, I apologize to my child(ren), and use more enlightened behavior in the following moments. It wasn’t always like this for me, but I knew that we deserved better. We needed parenting r(e)volution. It’s time, peeps, and I want you to be part of it. Your children are worth it, and so are you.