Spare the rod. Save the child.

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Yesterday I re-posted a link on my Facebook page to The Center for Effective Discipline’s Spank Out Day.  Honestly, I almost didn’t re-post it because I thought it rather unnecessary to tell people not to spank for two reasons.  1) Most people don’t spank anymore anyway.  2) People that do spank know there are better options but are sometimes too angry to control themselves.  I thought it would be silly to even bring it up.  We’re all working on doing better everyday, right?  Wrong.

I’m glad I did.  Because I was wrong on both counts.  Apparently spanking is still considered an appropriate means of dealing with what parents deem as behavioral issues with children.
no-spanking

I’m feeling pretty judgmental on this issue today and, after careful consideration, feel absolutely certain that there is no grey area here.  I’ve trotted around it in my head trying to think of a kinder, gentler way to help people to understand why it’s unnecessary and positively damaging to spank children.  There isn’t one.  Because people who spank feel absolutely entitled, if not obligated, to do so in order to raise obedient little soldiers.  So I’m going to say it really loud- STOP HITTING YOUR KIDS!

We could go on about peoples considered as lesser throughout our history being subjugated to the will of the dominant sector- yes, as recently as women who were punished routinely by their husbands (completely within their rights) for any manner of ‘wrong’ doing.  But parents who spank don’t hear this because of their determination to raise an obedient child.  Children do not have the same rights as other groups in the eyes of these parents and, indeed, in the eyes of the law.

We could talk about issues of perpetual violence and detrimental associations between love and violent behaviors.  But parents who spank will say that this was how they were raised and they love their parents and turned out well.

We can talk about linguistics and the fact that spanking is a soft word that parents use to alleviate the guilt associated with the words ‘hitting’, ‘abuse’, ‘violence’, ‘control’ which are all more appropriate words to describe the actual act being committed.  But parents who spank will say that the motivation behind spanking is different.  They are not hitting their child out of anger, they are hitting them out of love.  (Now say that last part again in your head.  Do you hope to be loved that way?)

We can even cite literature that shows that physical punishment is completely ineffective in creating the behavioral change the parent seeks.  What it incites is fear and any manner of deceit in order not to get caught again.  Spankers say it works because they see less of the behavior.  Might we be hopeful that this is because the child has sought out a more supportive environment and is spending less time with the abusive parent?  We can hope but given that children of ‘spanking age’ are usually in their very physically dependent early years, I doubt it.  But it’s not because the desired lesson was learned.  What is internalized by the child in these encounters is to live in fear because those who love them also inflict physical, psychological, and emotional harm on them.

Hitting is only one of many (a few more: time out, isolation, humiliation, withdrawal of affection, taking away personal items/’priveledges’) overt and damaging methods of controlling a child.  Simply replacing hitting with another method of control is not the solution.

The hard part here is NOT learning a new skill to use in these situations but changing the way in which we view them and our children.  It is changing the way we view the traditional hierarchical family dynamic to one of trust, appreciation, support, and true love (not this wacky, power struggle, abusive cycle kind).  And guess what?  You will never need discipline or punishment because what you have created is a respectful home community in which your wisdom, care, and love are appreciated because they are communicated in ways that are clear to the child’s heart and mind. This article- Why we don’t punish our son. Ever. – nailed it in my opinion. Thank you, Jillian Lauren, for rocking me to sleep last night with the pull I needed back to MY reality- the one in which my children communicate openly with their parents and each other and difficult situations are met with compassion and problem-solving not violence, guilt, and shame.

Having support in parenting is monumental and generally people parent the way their parents did so the support for change is definitely not coming from there.  When we know better, we do better.  Here’s some great literature for reconsidering and healing the parent-child relationship:

Connection Parenting by Pam Leo
connection parenting
Parenting for Social Change by Teresa Graham Brett
parenting for social change

Trust and Pixie Dust

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“I am youth!  I am joy!  I am freedom!” sang Peter Pan, as he flew through the air across the stage avoiding Captain Hook’s grasp with each pass.

As I sat this morning in Casa Manana Children’s Theatre enjoying another spectacular play, I noted once again with interest how often undertones and flat-out overtones of freedom, choice, pure joy, and fulfillment fill our entertainment but not our lives.  Why, Peter Pan is about an island filled with boys who run away from home so they “never have to grow up and learn solemn things”!  In a recent Humans Being podcast, I talked with Tara and Justin Wagner about encouraging our unschooled children to preserve and nurture this lust for knowledge, passion, and independent growth in a household in which the financial support is derived from a parent in an occupation or routine in which they are unfulfilled.  These are the homes of the lost boys- our boys, the ones who see their futures in the glazed over eyes and hectic routines of their fathers.

Where did this notion come from- that we, along the way, must scrap our impulsiveness, passion, sense of fun, and eager desire for adventure?  Or that it must be sacrificed in exchange for financial stability and social status? And why is it continually perpetuated despite awareness to the contrary?  Most parents feel so much pressure for their children to ‘succeed’ that the pressures of this contrived and miserable adulthood existence are imposed earlier and earlier in children’s lives so that they’re ‘prepared’ and can ‘function highly’.   We escape to entertainment to once again feel the possibility of freedom, fulfillment, and consciousness that was encouraged and then left behind in the innocence of youth.Magical Fairy Dust

To truly support a generation of joyful, conscious, passion-driven people, we must, ourselves, strip away the ideas and beliefs that joy is just beyond the next bend or that we work now to live later.  Reconsidering the lives we have made and the goals we have set can be very difficult.  How do we de-program ourselves while still being able to provide for our children?  There is no set recipe for this because each of us has a different flame, passion, dream to pursue.  I can say that there are a few general steps:

1. Consider financial expenditures.  Money (or lack thereof) is the biggest factor keeping people in unfulfilling situations.  The things you thought you needed pale in comparison to the joy of living in the now.  Shedding things (sell, consign, donate) and bills (downsize, go to one car or no car (!)) is incredibly liberating.

2. Consider your dreams.  We all have them.  They seem unrealistic or are shelved for ‘someday’ while we continue to live the day-to-day routine hoping that one day the stars will align and a green light will flash telling us it is time.

3. Someday is right now.  Start working quickly and earnestly in the direction of the dream(s) you have identified.  Make a vision board.  Don’t wait.  No more excuses.  Today is the day you will feel full because you have chosen to live. 

Peter Pan renewed my awareness of, intention and attention to feeling the joy of life and analyzing what is truly necessary.  Learn from your kids!  And watch this video of Adora Svitak: What Adults Can Learn From Kids.

If I keep thinking these good thoughts, I may even take flight.  Will you fly today?

HB #17- Who Are 'They'?

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In this episode: Sarah talks about social and media influences- deprogramming ourselves to see the empowered decisionmakers in our children.

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Rethinking Everything Magazine!!!
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Who are ‘they’?
Researchers? Other parents?

Studies regarding social influences on children are not studying free children
Most children in our society are oppressed, judged, otherwise altered by the motives of others.
How can these studies apply to our children?

Undesirable messages

Good vs. bad in life- smoking, alcohol, tattoos, clothing choices… What are the issues that bug you?

Free children demonstrate their individuality in their relative disinterest in the choices of others.
We talk about personal choice and evidence- they make their own personal choice

Sex, drugs, language

Video games- violence primarily is the issue
In talks with my kids- ‘we know it’s not real!’
Listen to them- they know
Role playing- pretend- fun, playing out scenarios not experienced in real life

Music- sex, language, violence

TV/movies- Watch with them! Talk about it.

Tune in to your kids.
Music selections:  Who Are They?- Buck O Nine / Anyway- O.A.R.

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