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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Disciplining kids

I hate watching tv. I never watch it - unless it distracts me when someone else is watching it. Eg. Deidre. Tonight there was a show about a 'supernanny' helping a couple change the habits of their 4 kids. This show is about kids being little demons, completely uncontrollable, absolute little shits. I'm sure you know the type.

One of the things I got from the show - and from past experience throughout my life - is that many people are weak parents. The reason the kids have no discipline is because the parents dont't instill it into them. The parents are weak, and let their kids run wild. Or the parents are inconsistent, not just with their attempts at discipline, but also in their support of each other. They undermine each other, where one parent tells the kids off, and the other parent lets them do what they've just been told off for.

I'm proud of my own past, where for a number of years I was involved with raising kids. They weren't my own, but for a period of time, I was like their father. Michael was 8 and Jamie was 4 when their mother, Estera, moved in to live with me. Michael knew me, as I'd been around in his life ever since he was 1 year old, even living with them for a time when he was 3-4. Jamie, however, was different. When he was born I moved out of the house, and during the following 4 years, I didn't see a lot of them. So for Michael, he was happy to see me again and have me as part of his life again. For Jamie, I was a stranger. He never really got used to me.

During the time I was with them, however, I was consistent with the discipline, and Estera and I supported each other in front of them with the punishments and decisions we handed out to them, even though we might have argued about it later, when they were asleep. Consistency for the kids was always important to me and to her.

During my 2 years in their life in this fashion, they were awesome kids! I'm proud of how I helped raise them, and helped them grow.

Boundaries were set out and stuck to. If they played up, they had to sit in the 'time out chair'. That was the only form of punishment I ever handed out, unless they were super-super bad, in which case they weren't allowed to watch tv.

One of the things I've noticed with people - and the tv show tonight - is that there doesn't seem to be that much of an attempt made to get kids to understand WHY they're being disciplined. What's important to these people who advocate such discipline is the discipline, but not the understanding. Put the kid in the chair, demand an apology after a few minutes, and then let them go their merry way.

I would put them in the chair and tell them that they're going to sit there and think about what they've done and why it's bad. When they can tell me why it was wrong for them to do it, and apologise, I'd give them a big hug and let them go their merry way. If they got the reason wrong, I'd explain the correct reason to them, give them a big hug for thinking about it, and let them go their merry way. If they couldn't work it out, they were free to tell me they didn't know why, in which case I'd explain it, give them a big hug for thinking about it, and let them go their merry way.

There was never any tantrums. Never any attempts to defy the punishment by refusing to sit in the chair. They would always sit there and think about it, and then talk to me when they were ready.

I treated them as people, rather than as ignorant kids. I'd talk with them about spiritual stuff, about psychic abilities, being able to see and talk to spirits, about getting spiritual protection. They'd talk to me about the dreams they had, the conversations they had with their spirit guides, and how happy and comfortable they felt about their lives, and going to sleep.

While Jamie never really accepted me as a parental figure, he trusted and respected me enough to accept the time out chair if I put him there. There were also quite a few times where he'd wake up from a bad dream, crying, feeling alone, and I'd come in and check on him (even at 4 in the morning). He'd be sitting there, cross-legged on the edge of the bed, and as soon as I came around the corner to walk down the hallway to him - he could see me come around the corner - he'd stop crying, climb back into bed, and peacefully settle back to sleep while I tucked the blankets up around him again.

When I was in a parental role with Kylie and her two kids, we were completely and utterly at opposites to how we should raise kids. It was her belief that kids should have absolute freedom, rarely be disciplined, and be allowed to grow and develop naturally, without any undue influences. The result? They were fracking monsters! Jamie, the 5 year old, was a true demon from hell. Joshua, the 3 year old, was fine - he hadn't had the chance to grow up with the same undisciplined issues yet.

Jamie, being the true demon from hell that he was, used to throw chairs into walls. Scream. Take knives and threaten. Oh, he once jumped repeatedly on a kitten until it stopped moving because he didn't like how it meowed. He handed the shattered body to his mum, saying "Kitten's dead," and then went back to play in the sandpit. I wasn't there for that, but I was shocked when I heard about it. He wasn't disciplined for that.

Any time I tried to enforce a sense of discipline in the household by introducing the timeout chair, Kylie invalidated me by telling me I wasn't allowed to do that. I wasn't his father. I had no right. This was in front of the kids.

The relationship died within a matter of weeks, literally. She and the kids moved in, and 4 weeks later the relationship was over. You could say the kids came between us, but in reality, it was her inability to accept that kids need discipline. She used to be abused when she was a child, and she over-compensated by refusing any form of discipline - to her it was 'abuse' - of her kids.

Deidre and I have very similar attitudes about how we want to raise our kids in the future. We agree on the methods of discipline, consistency, supporting each other, helping our kids understand respect, communication, and love within the family. I think we'll be awesome parents. Both her and I come from families where there was very little love shown to the children - us - and we have had our own individual experiences as parental figures of other people's kids. We've learnt of our own capabilities as good parents, and we want to be parents. We want each other to create a family. That's very cool.

We were talking about it tonight, of course, after watching that tv show, reiterating our attitudes, our expectations, our hopes and dreams about it.

It's not going to be overnight. We're being realistic about our relationship and moving forward with each other. We're not these people who meet, a month later they're engaged, a month after that they're married, 9 months later they have a child, a year after that they're divorced. Hell no.

We're going to be with each other for a long time. We both believe that. However, initially, there's a few things we want to do before we get married and have a family. We - I - want to establish a bit more of our careers before we move to Australia at the end of next year. Where we're at right now is a good stepping stone for increasing our chances of getting good jobs in Australia. Once we get to Australia then we'll get married, then have kids and settle down. That's the plan for the next 2-3 years.

In that time I want to ensure my future career prospects are enhanced. Hell, if we're going to have a family, I've got to raise my income to support more than just me, especially if she won't be doing much work for a while.

The past few months, and my plans into the short term future, are based on those plans. It's going to be quite a ride. :-)

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Posted on 11/10/2005 09:32:00 PM Backlinks

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Blogger passion said...

I grew up in a family where my parents didn’t need to discipline me, which is why I am so grateful of them!! As a child,I could be wild occasionally, but most of the time I was an angel (my parents can endorse that!!). Strange it may sound; I actually have turned out to be a very well self-disciplined adult.

Since I’ve never been in a parental role, I have no idea what the best approach is. Although I can see the merit of using discipline on children, I have also seen examples of children who grow up given maximum freedom and have turned out to be good and bright teenagers.

It’s been a while Alan, and you’ve posted so many entries since. Hope all goes well with your plan of moving back to Aussie and the rest of it.

11/11/2005 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

Hi passion, nice to see you back here again!

Your parents probably didn't need to discipline you because you WERE an angel.

Regarding those children who received absolute freedom and turned out to be good teenagers, did you see them recieving the freedom as infants, or as 10 year olds, leading up to being teenagers? What I've learnt is that if you get kids to understand boundaries at a young age, they'll grow up with that understanding.

The problem for many parents seems to be getting their kids to understand where the boundaries are. It makes it difficult, I know, when so many parents don't understand where their own boundaries are either, and become instigators of self and domestic abuse, which also includes physical punishment and beatings.

I don't agree with physical punishment, and don't see the need. I don't see physical strength and discipline as being valid ways to raise children, and believe those who resort to physical violence in the home - and even in society - as being weak. Instead of dealing with their challenges they lash out and beat it down. Not an effective solution.

A better solution is always to communicate with the kids, and to always be stronger than them mentally. The will of the parent always has to be greater than the will of the child, otherwise the child will never know where the boundaries are. And that takes strength that most people don't understand. Those with low willpower, who can't say no, who are abusive to themselves and others, who engage in drug use, alcohol use and crime, are those whose children will most likely grow up to be exactly the same.

"Just say no" has a lot of meaning, in so many different ways.

11/11/2005 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Karen Lee Field said...

As a child, I knew my boundaries and stuck to them. My father had a look that controlled me, yet he only ever smacked me twice (and I deserved it both times).

As a parent, I used the same discipline on my own kids and they knew exactly what was acceptable and what was not. We were always complimented on having well behaved boys, and I still get that compliment even though one boy has left home and I never see him, and the other is just about ready to enter the work force.

11/11/2005 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Sorry to be such a Johnny-come-lately, Alan. You made some excellent points in this post. Kids do need a healthy balance of love and discipline if they're going to grow into happy well-adjusted adults.

My father was a violent alcoholic, but he instilled in me the values of work ethic and morals. I'm raising my kids with these same values, minus the violence.

11/18/2005 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

Thanks Deborah. Sorry to hear about your father, but happy to hear you've made something positive from what you've learned.

While I obviously don't condone violence, I do condone discipline, the setting of rules and boundaries. If we don't teach our children these values, how can we honestly expect them to become valuable and respectable members of society?

I think it's just ludicrous to ignore teaching children about boundaries when that's what society is all about - boundaries. If we teach children there are no boundaries, and they can do what they want, then how does that make them a responsible member of a society that exists due to its boundaries? Adults need to work within boundaries, or they will be within the boundaries of a prison.

We have a responsibility to allow our children to have decent futures by teaching them about boundaries and discipline, because that's part of the responsibility of living within society. If we fail to teach them these things, and fail to help them grow into responsible adults, we are failing our children and we are failing ourselves.

We are also failing society, which then has to cover the costs of removing these irresponsible and violent criminals from the society that they don't understand, by putting them into prisons where they're surrounded by other people who don't understand boundaries - except for the prison boundaries they're now surrounded by.

Do we want that kind of future for our children? We HAVE to discipline them in a responsible and respectful manner, or that's the kind of future they are going to look forward to.

11/18/2005 06:49:00 AM  

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