One my biggest challenge as a parent is disciplining. I wholeheartedly believe that discipline is an important responsibility bestowed upon us who have been gifted the role of parenthood. Our ability to effectively discipline a our children in order to instill values that will serve them well in their adulthood is very critical. But just how do we really effectively discipline a child?
I grew up in the most natural way of discipline – spanking. There were other forms that were harsher and milder ones every now and then but mostly, I recall spanking. I also remember that excruciating conversation after the spanking. “What did you do?” “Why do you think you got spanked?” The conversation didn’t end until my mother was satisfied with what she heard. I’d cry and be told not to cry. I’d say sorry and I would be told my words meant nothing. Then I would quietly endure my mother’s monologue of what is right and wrong which she usually capped with a threat of what happens should I make the same mistake.
How did I turn out? I don’t think I turned out too bad. I try to live a good life and be a good person. I have never been to jail, never tried drugs, finished college, have a good job, and now helping raise little human beings into good people.
Was it the spanking? Was it the lecture? Or was it the combination of spanking and lecture that turned me into a decent human being (I think)? I don’t know. I wish I knew. But I can tell you, as I now deliver my own monologue to my kids – I hear my mother’s words in my own voice. And in the middle of it all, I cannot help but think – perhaps my child’s mind also wanders where mine wandered back then. And boy, did my mind wander back then! It was never down a path of appreciation though. It was mostly down the crossroads of annoyance, hurt, anger and sometimes even hate. I still repeated the same mistakes and endured the same punishment.
Parenthood does not come with a manual. Every child is different. They evolve and I find myself evolving with them. Before kids, I swore I would never ever spank my future children. Guess what? I have spanked my children. When those thoughts wandered as a child, I swore off those monologues. Well, I now have my own version. I made a promise to never ever let my future children feel how I felt – untrusted, unloved, insignificant, belittled. Yet, here I am mentally and emotionally struggling every time I discipline them because I could be making them feel exactly those feelings.
With Aiden, discipline is different. There’s no monologue because it just doesn’t work. His is straightforward. Things get taken away and he’s simply told why. For example, if he’s playing with the vacuum wire – we temporarily take the vacuum away and we tell him to be “nice to the vacuum“. Most days he’d be okay but some days he protests with a meltdown. We handle the meltdown but we know not to cave in to his demand of getting the vacuum back. It usually works.
With Oliver, he definitely gets the monologues. I want to say Hubby’s monologues are worse and longer than mine but it really is a toss up. One of the issues we’ve ran into lately is lying. I absolutely hate it when my child lies. But I am also very aware that when I was a child – I, too, lied. The frustration I feel is probably the frustration my own mother felt back then.
Believe it or not – I get tired of my own monologue! I really do. It is both exhausting and frustrating as a parent to always find myself in the same situation and and in the same conversation. However, the fear of my child growing up without integrity can also be very overpowering. The thought of it scares me.
I really just want my children to grow up to be good people. Don’t we all?
I love both my children very much. I am still learning as a parent – evolving and growing. Disciplining continues to be a trial and error for me. Some days I am succeeding and some days, not so much. But, I will keep trying.
P.S. I found this article that I think gives really good insight into how important it is to control our own anger when when we are disciplining. I’m definitely still working on my own thinking errors.