Sun 16 Oct, 2005 05:01 am
How to discipline your children after leaving the Family
I had a nother question:
In the Family, children's discipline was a high prioritiy. After leaving the Famiy, I realized how much the social climate has changed and how people just don't give their kids even swats in public and hardly in private.
All I remember about the changing social climate about discipline is when a GN would come out and say how the "system", "anti-christ", or the devil was persecuting us by making laws going against the Bible. One of the laws the "system" made was against CHILD ABUSE. Since the Family is/was guildty of this crime... we were brainswashed with Berg's antidote that it was all an attack of our way of life and faith.
*My question: how did you deal with living in the real world when dealing with your children's discipline? Berg said "discipline is training"... and especially for young children they need something more "training". How did you manage with your large families?
I don't have a large family, but my discipline methods and outlook has drastically changed over the years. I thought I could raise perfect kids, that they would naturally be good and that when they were naughty, I could discipline it out of them. Unfortunatley, I was wrong, I was molding their personalities into my version of what their personality should be. At some point I realised, "Hey, I don't want perfect kids, it's too much work, too much anger, too much pressure, I just want happy kids who are who they are!" and made an effort to step back.
I increased my tolerance for 'disobedience' and lowered my standards for what disobedience was. I threw out many of my 'bad behaviour' standards, I allow them to complain, to talk back, to argue, to be mad at me, to be stubborn, to be independent, to basically experience their emotions and feelings, and figure it out. I realize that if I let them cool off, we can talk about it a bit later, and slowly they come around and come back to me to apolgize for what they feel was their bad behavior.
I try to leave the door open for them to express their anger at me over something, and I try to take it into account and admit I was wrong or made a move out of frustration which wasn't really fair.
We also just fight sometimes, and leave it at that, and an hour later we are all fine, we just needed to get it out of our systems. I don't want to have this 'I'm your parent and you are in subjection to me!' attitude.
I also allow myself to be human, to get upset and frustrated, to yell at them sometimes, and not berate myself over it. I go back and apologise when I do, but don't put myself under a guilt-thing of "I'm such a bad mother..." My kids are my kids and they are wonderful to me, they don't have to be perfect for the world, they need to be strong and confident in who they are and in the surety of my love for them no matter what their behavior or attitude or how they turn out. And I hope that in turn they turn out good.
For some practical things, I often use restrictions as punishment. I rarely ever spank them, and almost never just smack them. I did more of this when they were younger, but they are older, the issues are different, they don't really need physical punishment. I have threatened of course, but the threat works well. I also try to let them see how their treatment of me makes me feel as their parent. I have a pretty open relationship with them, will answer whatever question they ask about any subject, and if they really want something bad enough, I don't usually keep it from them, at least let them try it out. They are kind to animals, they respect authority, they realize the necessity of learning, they are lazy, they are normal siblings, they like TV, games and comic books, candy, soda and McDonalds, they know fruits, vegetables and homework are essential to growth, and most of all, they know I love them.
The most recent question thrown my way was "Mom, why do you and Dad hate churches?" I gave them an abbreviated version of the answer.
PS. I forgot to mention, I do have my main basic rules which I won't budge from:
Don't hurt others physically, and avoid doing it verbally.
Don't be rude to anyone.
Be kind to the weak, the young and the old, and help them when needed.
It helps to understand the difference between discipline & punishment.
Discipline is training kids in the basics of socially acceptible behavior, the same way you might train a dog not to jump up on the furniture or communicate he needs to go outside. Parents & other adults train through example, by setting consistent limits & realistic expectations, and by communicating simple, straight-forward messages about those limits and expectations. Training little human beings to behave in a civilized manner is best accomplished through a system of rewards and restrictions--which is exactly what works with other animals.
Punishment, i.e., inflicting physical pain in response to bad behavior should be an anvenue of last resort, and even then, it comes with lots of contra-indications.
I realize there are many poorly socialized kids running around these days, but I think that has as much to do with parental neglect. Training children to be self-regulating, independent & productive adults takes enormous creative energy. You can do more to help a child learn socially acceptable behavior by reading to her than by slapping her or yelling at her. Family-style dinners are also a great disciplinary exercise, but it does take patience and a set time to be together. Poorly behaved children frequently don't have the benefit of regular interaction with adults and older children around the dinner table.
A basic foundation of discipline occurs by keeping kids on a regular schedule of sleep, eating & nutrition, play, physical exercise & learning tasks. The more regular the kids' schedule, the less problem you'll have with tired, cranky, hungry & confused children who don't understand limits. Keeping kids off caffeine & sugar--as well as paying attention to food allergies--works wonders for their dispositions.
When kids seem to go out of control, two things have happened: 1) they've tested the limits, which is part of the normal learning process, and 2) they're having trouble self-regulating and need the imposition of external control.
The classic "out of control" behavior is that of a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. Different kids have differing levels of frustration tolerance, and some are more inclined to tantrums than others. This is where it helps for the primary caregiver to really understand the child's character. Kids with low frustration tolerance give signals that their frustration/anger is escalating. It you're keyed into these signals, very often you can redirect or de-escalate the kid before s/he goes ballistic.
There's a lot to be said for letting kids be kids. I don't subscribe to the expectation of perfectly behaved kids at all times, because such children are over-controlled by external authority and often to do not have the opportunity to make the mistakes necessary for learning self-control and initiative.
There are lots of books written on this subject--which is HUGE--and much of the material in those books share the benefit of many years' research into childhood development and effective parenting techniques. Each developmental stage in a child's life brings its own disciplinary challenges.
To News Snoop
As far as my experiences go - I will have to say, we made a lot of mistakes when we first left TF. We still had that idea that "spare the rod, spoil the child" was the first and foremost order of business. While in some cases, that is true, TF took it way too far and overstepped the limits. Also, in TF, kids cannot grow up naturally, they must be cute, obedient, little soldiers of Christ and are supposed to be adults at 12 years old. we must have been so incredibly arrogant to think we were so spiritually above everyone that our children grew up faster, in spite of what is the natural growth measure.
When my kids first became teenagers, I thought I had been so strict and tight with them, that naturally, they would just follow along without any rebellion. Boy, was I wrong. And this is the case in TF also. They don't know what to do with teenagers that just won't follow the straight and narrow. They don't remember that it was just that disobedience they had towards their parents and their parents' rules that broke them out into something new and different and they became their own person. Sadly, in the case of F. members it was into a cult. Aside from that, I've come to realize that this is a natural process.
When a child starts to grow up and grow into "their own skin" so to speak, they want to be their own person and discover who they are and they don't necessarily want their parents input anymore. It doesn't mean they are not listening, however. Teenage years are very touchy times. I'm so glad I only have one left--- whew. I told him if he gave me any trouble, whatsoever, I will hang him by his toes. He knows I'm kidding of course.
When my daughter became a teenager, I was so strict with her it was ridiculous and whenever she became rebellious, i took it way too personal. "How could she dare go against me" was my reaction. The poor girl took the brunt of my learning how to deal with teenagers. I expected way too much of her. Then there was my son whom I wouldn't believe would go against his mother and start smoking. Boy, was my head buried in the sand or what. I had a real serious wake up call with him. Once he took our one car and went on a joy ride. About 2 a.m. we were awakened by a phone call - "Hello, is this Mr. and Mrs. so and so?" Us: "Yes, it is." person on the phone: "Do you have a Chevy Metro and a son named so-so?" Us: "Yes, it's in the drive-way and our son is in bed." Person on the phone - "Maybe you should check again, because we have your car and your son in custody." I've come to hate phone calls at 2 a..m. and policemen standing at my door with someone in handcuffs. Geeze.
I was so aghast they my son could stary so far that I thought I was seriously doing something so wrong that I must be nuts. One day I walked into a County mental health clinic and told them I was going crazy - no kidding. They sat me down and arranged for me to talk to someone. The guy looked at me and said "think about all the people you know that had trouble as teenagers and then turned out as fine citizens. You are worrying way too much." He then went on to explain how teenagers are almost beyond our ability to manipulate into what we want them to be. He said it's like putting them in a space capsule and you can only hope and pray they come out the other end of the atmosphere safe and alive without gettiing burned up. Usually, they end up hurting themselves more than anyone. The trick is to try and steer them in the right direction, realize theya re going to make all kinds of mistakes at the same time.
Well, he must have been right because that son is now in his last year of university and will be graduating in May. He sings in churches and for the homeless in shelters and is one fine individual and I couldn't be prouder.
It took a few trial and errors for me to realize that I had to let go and let them grow up and be comfortable in their own skin. Sometimes I get accused by the older ones of not being strict enough on the younger ones. Go figure. I can't win, it seems.
Really - the best thing any parent can do is to make sure their children know they love them. Idon't think there is any perfect way of raising children and there will be a lot of different parenting styles. I used to like to read John Rosemond who writes a weekly column. I thought he made a lot of good points. Sometimes he was too unrealistic for me, maybe because he wasn't dealing with all the cult issues and whatnot that I was.
One thing to do is to realize just what is wrong about TF's raising children and then go from there.
Hope that's a help.
Excellent advice, Achiek. I agree 100%. I also know the feeling of the 2 am phone call all too well.
The best advice you gave was to question everything you learned in TF and start over.
When we first left, my husband and I also still believed in corporal punishment. It wasn't for long though and we found we didn't have to use it to get results. It's degrading to children. I'm against it, except for maybe a hand slap when a toddler tries to touch something dangerous, etc.
I still feel terrible about the harsh discipline all the kids in TF suffered.
I totally agree, Helga. We found we got better results with less corporal punishment rather than more. And yes, sometimes a toddler needs a handslap for their own safety, like not running out in the street and getting hit by a car, as long as they understand you love them. It was very common in the 50s, our generation, that corporal punishment was the norm. I certainly remember getting a lot of spankings and my mother liked to use a coat hanger. That really hurt!