Post finished… ha ha!
Before we go any further I need to make a few distinctions…
Discipline refers to guiding, modelling, teaching, leading and encouraging.
Punishment refers to penalising, humiliating, inflicting harm, or chastising.
There is so much fear around not “punishing children” and children not having “consequences” for their behaviour – you may have heard or think yourself that children need to be taught right from wrong, that they will grow up being out of control if we don’t teach them, they will turn out unruly and disrespectful.
Allot of us are also unconsciously parenting from someone else values and beliefs. Most of us are programmed to parent from fear and we don’t even know it – it is how we were parented, the messages we are fed from society, from professionals, bloody super nanny….
I’ll tell you something that I know about fear… fear breeds anger. When you fear something, you try to control it, and when you feel you cannot or are challenged, you get angry.
Parenting from fear might feel like this, if you tune into that little voice in your head –
fear that your children will be disrespectful,
fear that your children will not grow up to be happy & successful,
fear that our children will be out of control,
fear of other mamas judging your children’s behaviour,
fear that your children will never learn to listen –
Fear will result in angry outbursts from you, feelings of inadequacies that the more you try to parent your children from this space, the more out of control you feel, feelings that things are just not working out how you dreamed they would… (You know that dream you had with your burgeoning belly, when all you were dreaming about was how divine being a mama was going to be, romanticising about walking fields with your babies, collecting wild flowers… or was that just me?)
On the flip side… being parented from fear and being dished out punishment works when kids are little or when their parents have their beady eyes on them but the effectiveness is very short lived…
Before long and usually well entrenched by their teenage years, behaviours such as lying, sneaking, anger, rebellion, depression, aggression and addictions will replace the compliant child.
This is because what was underneath and behind the behaviour was not acknowledged, seen, felt, heard or dealt with. I’m going to make a controversial statement… “Happy kids don’t have problematic behaviour”… Yes, happy kids are learning to be grownups and make mistakes but they do not have problematic behaviour.
I also want to be completely straight with you about something else…
Punishment not only includes smacking and hitting. There are many softer forms of punishment in full swing today such as time out, grounding, removing privileges and behaviour charts. This is still punishment, it still leads to children resenting their parents, it still leads to feelings of shame in children (translates into self-worth issues as a grown up) and the power balance is still tipped full swing in the favour of parents.
The power balance absolutely needs to be equal.
This is controversial because it is different. I can almost read some of your minds.
Perhaps more fear is arising- “if I surrendered being the power source to my children what would happen – anarchy in da house!!??”
Perhaps you’re saying to yourself – “I was smacked and punished and I turned out ok” – Ok? Are you happy with “ok” – for your children? And did you really? Do you suffer addictions, do you have any relationship issues? Do you have deep, connected, intimate, authentic relationships or are they just ok? Do you work in a job that you love? Or are you just going to work because you HAVE to?
We have been conditioned, our parents were conditioned, since the earliest of times to believe that children need to be controlled, moulded, conform, sit still, behave like little adults when they are infect children –
playful, joyous, blissful, full of wonder and awe, free from self-doubt and self-consciousness, full of freedom to be them, have complete freedom of speech, free to be and not just do – and then WE get involved..
We impose our crap onto them… They invite us every single day to remember all of the above, and we choose to impose our old conditioned crap and wounds onto them… to try and control them, make them conform as we have.
I believe we need to urgently change the way we parent our children.
We need to sort out our own crap – when your child annoys you, you become frustrated, you get angry, you lash out, you yell – this is ALL YOURS, there are clues to what you need to heal there, we need to become more conscious of our own behaviour (that which we ask our children to do every single day, but how do we feel we exempt from doing the same??), we need to shift our mindset away from fear and control.
The alternative is not giving the child full power. This is what people automatically assume about peaceful, mindful parenting.
The alternative is stepping up to be an inspirational leader in your family. An impeccable and authentic role model, who has clear and consistent boundaries, boundaries that are maintained through emotionally safe and creative resolutions rather than harsh consequences and punishment, a leader that models all that you want for your child – respectful, happy, loving, kind…
Just think briefly about what you want from your children – kindness, respect, happiness, peace, and love – are you being all of these things or are you confusing the shit out of them??
This can be confronting stuff to face. We all have to face it and until we accept the mission to do so, nothing will change. I walk this path, every single day, I have faced and still face the challenges of this mission, I walk this talk, and I live this.
I understand that what we need is support throughout this process and most of all information on what the alternatives are, without judgement – we need women to unite, help each other through this, I’m here for you..