The word punishment is so fraught with negative connotations and associations that I am almost nervous using it.
However, if we are to discuss successful Parenting and if you want Parenting tips on how to be a loving and effective Parent we must look at this difficult aspect of Parenting.
Break the rules and face the Punishment or Consequences!
In all areas of life there are rules, regulations and punishments/consequences if you break the rule.
This applies to driving, taxes, flying and numerous other areas of our lives.
We find this pretty much normal and acceptable, and society, whether you realize this or not actually expects and demands that you are familiar with the written law of the country of which you are a resident.
I can assure you that I am not familiar with the Dutch Constitution or that of any other country that I visit, yet legally, I am expected to, and it is assumed that I am aware of it!
Even most lawyers that I know; don’t even know all of it!
Okay, so back to Parenting and Parenting tips.
Love and Law Model
When it comes to rules, and the ‘’law’’ aspect of my ‘’Love and Law ‘’ model, we tend to get uncomfortable.
Often Parents unconsciously or consciously believe that when they are strict; that they are not loving.
The opposite is the case. If you cannot be strict when needed you are not really loving your children.
Sure, you love them of course! But…when you refuse to lay down the law, you are being unloving.
Punishment/Consequences is setting boundaries.
Because children need boundaries, because it is a big mistake to assume that Love is enough and that somehow childhood ought to be free of rules, regulations and boundaries.
A river can only flow freely and in an orderly manner due its boundaries.
Similarly our Parental love and wisdom can only work if we are tough when needed.
Now, being tough when needed does not per se mean that the scary P word, yes Punishment is called for.
But it may!
It can be needed because at times we only learn an important lesson when we feel the consequences of it.
If we get away with the consequence it is the task of our Parents to punish us, to make us “suffer”, or rather make us experience and learn the consequence.
My child steals candy, and gets home with it without the store noticing it. If I do not do anything as a parent, if I verbally bear down on them, no lesson is learned. And they will go back and steal more candy. This time they might get arrested, depending on their age and the state or country that I am in, there will or will not be Legal consequences.
If on the other hand I make sure that my child either goes back to the store with the candy, or pays the store the money for it and a big apology they will have learned the lesson.
They need to feel they were doing something very bad and illegal. Depending on their age they will also need to be punished for the unacceptable behavior. Not for the sake of punishing them, no for the sake of guiding them in the right direction. Theft for instance does not lead in the right direction.
I have – to my great pain- shed many a tear, after working with young juvenile (underage) delinquents. And guess what: why are they in jail?
Because their parents were too lazy, absent and/or confused to punish them when they started doing bad, illegal “small” things.
So, should you use punishment when needed, if you look at it from this perspective?
The choice is yours.
I wish you happy parenting.
And…. a peaceful Christmas and Health 2015!