My sister, who is not yet a mom, recently shared this quote with me:
“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression. When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility. When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault. When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.” ― Haim G. Ginott
This quote means something. It speaks to the harsh reality of our society’s view on parenting. In reading recent articles and responses to them, I’ve been surprised by the great number of people who fully endorse physical “discipline;” and beyond that, there are many more parents who simply resort to harsh discipline out of anger, frustration or a feeling of helplessness.
If our children are going to learn how to respect others, empathize and peacefully resolve conflicts, they must be shown how to do so starting from day one. We as parents must dig deep within ourselves to break the patterns of anger, yelling, criticizing and spanking that often come as knee jerk reactions.
We must find gentle, loving ways to be authoritative and firm with our children, relying on teamwork, love and mutual respect to help shape them into happy, healthy, functioning members of society.
For me, discipline has by far been the hardest aspect of being a mom. Positive parenting is a challenge for me. I have never questioned the rightfulness, effectiveness or justness of this approach. However, I’m naturally impatient, a bit of a control freak, emotionally sensitive and sarcastic; traits that don’t easily lend themselves to a calm parenting style. Conversely, I’m nurturing, sensitive and empathetic, which balances me. But when your personality gets in the way of the type of parent you want to be – like it sometimes does for me – guilt, doubt and inconsistency creep in.
I have two very active, energetic and strong-willed young boys. Their father and I have strong personalities and we are both passionate and often forceful communicators. As expected, our sons are the same way, which creates a charged home environment that can turn to chaos when stresses or emotions run high.
My husband and I have always instinctually gravitated away from using force and toward a more diplomatic approach to raising our boys. But with such powerful energy in our house, it has been difficult to walk the line between being consistently authoritative but gentle, and letting our kids run the show.
The many parenting books I have read (Raising a Son, Raising your Spirited Child and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child are my favorites) have given our family some great tools. But I’ll be the first to say that when you are dealing with daily power struggles, children who question every bit of authority, and public unruliness, it is hard to stay cool and calm.
More and more parents seem to be looking for ways to maintain parental authority while leaving behind the negative methods that leave everyone in the family feeling guilty and betrayed…
Read More: Ashley Allman, naturemoms.com