In case you were wondering, you’re a lousy parent. You may have already known this but just in case you didn’t, I’ll save you the time of finding out. How do I know? I’d like to credit my spot-on intuition to birthing eight children–but it turns out I’m a lousy parent myself so my intuition probably sucks. Apparently we can’t get anything right, especially discipline.
Back in the day, I spanked my four Millennials. Each and every one of them at some point had their little butt spanked for some childhood misdeed. I balked at the “no spanking” crowd even while practicing Attachment Parenting. I told myself that spanking fell under their principle of “positive discipline” and they just didn’t realize it. The Bible had it right and I had it right.
It really is amazing how you mellow out as you get older. My sisters, older than me by 10-16 years, constantly razzed our parents about letting me get away with everything. They were in their 50’s while I was in my teens and it made life much easier on me. Here I am at almost 50 and my parenting has evolved. It wasn’t the studies on spanking or negative feedback from my adult kids but I don’t spank my “second set” of kids.
I didn’t suddenly decide spanking was bad. I just don’t feel the need to spank because talking to them and time-outs have worked fine…well, pretty much. Recently, I was talking to my only daughter, the mother of two, about her four little brothers trying to kill each other yet again when she finally huffed, “Geez Ma, you need to spank their butts!” She went on to point out she and her other three brothers turned out fine being spanked. She also suggested I take away privileges like computer time and video games (which I tended not to do). Well, what does she know! She’s spanked occasionally and there’s no way my grandchildren ever did anything wrong.
Of course, families change through the generations. When Adrian Peterson was accused of beating his little son with a switch there was a new media frenzy about spanking. Being from the South was blamed along with being black, cultural differences and so on. Being rooted in the Bible is enough justification for many parents. Research claims most parents in the U.S. spank
their children but very few will admit it. Other parents consider themselves enlightened and proudly boast about using time-outs.
To be honest, I’ve caught myself feeling a little superior for not spanking. That usually goes away when one of the boys has me screaming like a raging lunatic with spit flying out of my mouth. It looks like yelling may be all us superior…er, lousy parents have. I’ve been informed that time-outs ruin your child. Yep, the years of lectures, media reports and talk show experts recommending time-out were wasted and we’re messing up our kids’ poor little brains.
“In a brain scan, relational pain—that caused by isolation during punishment—can look the same as physical abuse,” reads the first paragraph of a Time article called, ‘Time-Outs’ Are Hurting Your Child. The short article is written by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D, the authors of a new book, No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. Some of it makes sense. You put a child in time-out and rather than them thinking of what they did, they’re pouting and plotting your demise. The way I see it, if a child is getting similar scan results to an abused child, I’m thinking he/she is spending way too much time in the naughty chair!
Things get tricky with, “When the parental response is to isolate the child, an instinctual psychological need of the child goes unmet.” I don’t dare to compare myself with these well-respected experts, but if they’re talking about comfort, learning coping skills, etc. does one exclude the other? If you use time-out, you neglect to teach them coping skills? “Putting them in time-out deprives them of an opportunity to build skills that other types of discipline could focus on. Setting clear limits while emphasizing collaboration, conversation, and respect gives kids a chance to practice being active, empathic decision makers who are empowered to figure things out on their own.”
Like with spanking, time-out has to be used wisely. While they’re young, following the “one minute per year of age” rule is helpful. Sitting with them to teach what’s expected during their punishment; being quiet and sitting still, is a must. Don’t expect too much too soon. With an older child, sending them to their room isn’t always the best plan. I know my 15-year-old enjoys getting a break from me and his little brothers. It’s far more effective to make him unplug for an hour (no computer, video games, TV). I’m a fan of respected Christian parenting expert Dr. William Sears’ 10 Time-out Techniques, particularly if you have children under 10.
There will always be someone out there that thinks you’re a lousy parent, including your own kids here and there. Parents get the blame for all that’s wrong with the world and that will never end. Sadly, that attitude gets promoted by the “it takes a village” crowd that believes you can’t do it without “their” help; schools, social service agencies and so on (the government) rather than grandparents, churches and the other natural extensions of family. When things get tough, breathe and count to ten before you choose to punish and decide how. It’s remarkable what the little devils can remember twenty years later.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. ~Deuteronomy 6:6 – 6:7