Disciplining with an audience

There is a parenting technique that Conrad and I don’t agree on.

Fear or shame are two strong motivators, but they have many nuances. They are not the goal of disciplining but just natural consequences. No parent should use them as tools, but neither should any parent obsessively try to protect the kids from ever feeling these. They are healthy natural feelings which experienced in small doses build strong minds and I would say even an immune system.

As a kid o remember these, felt at first in the outside world, in kindergarten and the more so school. I remember the gigantic efforts I made to understand and control my fear in the academic world. Those first years served me well the rest of my life when dealing with authority or intimidating powerful people.

But for example shame, as in receiving a pat across the bum in front of others. The only instance I would agree to that would be if the kid is purposefully taking the audience as an ally, thinking that the parent wouldn’t follow through with an ultimatum, or would be embarrassed to discipline in front of others.

I guess as a kid I was too shy and too embarrassed to ever push the limit that far, but my parents never scolded me in front of others. We were always on the same team. Only as an adult I heard my mom clearly state it. When an outsider tries to discredit the words your own family said, you would, under no circumstance, side with them. It’s a matter of trust. Saying: “you know, that’s unlike my sibling or my parent to say or do. I’d like to talk to them before we discuss this matter any further”. When my teachers would say unkind things about me (I had for many years a drunk teacher) my dad could always turn things around, and let him eat his words. Because he trusted me. He never said it like that: “I trust you!” but he indirectly assured me of it always.

It has happened once when Jaclyn threw a tantrum for not getting her way (getting dangerously to the tall edge of a lake to through big rocks), so she got one memorable bum-pat. It snapped her out of her frenzy, but to this day I think of that and feel it was not right. Maybe it was my own embarrassment became we were surrounded by new friends).

I would never want to separate myself from her as a disciplining side effect. During this particular weekend I saw a dad take his almost teenage daughter to have a “conversation” when she purposely did twice the one thing her dad specifically said not to. She was obviously testing her boundaries. Her dad kept his cool. He got up, took her by the hand and said: “Let’s go. We need to talk in private.” I thought that was brilliant. There were probably 10 families who whitened this incident. Had he snapped at her I think it would have been more embarrassing for us as the audience.