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Thoughts on parenting

So a couple of weeks back, mollygm  came by and spent some time with her little girl at our house. At one point we were talking about the different therapies for Ike I was looking into. One of the approaches I rejected because it is glorified dog training. I have a child, not a dog. In one of my book posts mollygm  commented that "Kids won't wash their hands unless you train (yes, TRAIN them to do it)." And that rubbed me wrong for some reason. So I let it sit because I wasn't sure how to articulate what I was feeling or how to say what I wanted to say. And I'm not wanting to pick on mollygm  either. The concept of training children bothers me....partially because of that insane book on how to abuse your child and get away with it "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl. (The book has been implicated in several deaths of children) and partially because, well, training is something you do do to your animals or your tomato plants.  But anyways....

A few days later I started reading Parenting for a Healthy Future by Dotty Coplen. In chapter 5 "Punishment or Discipline" and found words that fulfilled what I was/am feeling

"When a parent only focuses on obedience, compliance, power and control, they risk losing the humanness of the child and instead are responding to the child as a machine or animal. We do need to control machines, we train animals, but we want to teach children." [Authors Emphasis]

She goes on to explain:
"Animals are not expected to make ethical choices or to have a social consciousness and we train them to meet our social expectations. Mans ability to control animals risks giving him an unhealthy sense of power and control...It is worthwhile wondering about the value of animal obedience training when it is extended beyond socializing the animal. It is important to think about how this fits into our goals of being healthy human beings. We need to be very careful about how we use power. We also need to differentiate between training animals and teaching children.

The parent has the task of helping the child learn what is expected in our world and also helping the child develop an inner sense of self as the first step of self control...Learning only to surrender to power and control through obedience and compliance stifles the qualities needed to become a responsible adult."

And I know that some would agrue that we are talking about semantics. But its not really. The inner gesture or inner attitude about the two words (train and teach) is very different. When a parent (or other adult) approaches a child from a position of power with the attitude that they are going to train a child its as if they are saying "I've decided that you are going to do X,Y and Z...because I want you to" To approach a child with a teach attitude its...well, softer. Its "I want to show you how to do X, Y, and Z. I'll be here to help you while you figure it out."

I don't know if this makes a lot of sense to anybody else...but this has sure helped me!



Dec. 28th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
LOL! Yeah I wrote, "Yes, TRAINED..." because I knew the word "train" would bother you. Mel never got a cookie for washing her hand after going pee, btw. ;) The point was that there are things that kids won't do on their own if they're never trained, taught, shown, presented with, educated about, whatev.

The reason I say "trained" for something like hand washing is that it's not something she can learn from one heart felt conversation about respect for her fellow humans by not touching them with poo poo hands. I had to go in with her, EVERY TIME and wash her hands, scrubbing under the nails and singing ABC's until it became a habit for her. She wasn't rewarded with anything but my attention. But you can't deny that I was training her.

What I was saying was that kids can't be "trusted" to do everything they should. Parents who "trust" their kids all the time end up being too permissive, which can actually lead to depression for the kid. Boundaries make children feel cared about and safe. That means checking up on them, not trusted them blindly. I mean, I trust Melanie... I trust her to react in any given situation like a four-year-old.

That book sounds pretty creepy though, and would probably turn me sour to the word, too.

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