This is the first in a series of columns on positive parenting.
Positive parenting promotes respect for children
Your child is 2 and somehow gets a hold of a permanent marker. Before you even notice, she has colored a mural on your living room wall. What do you do?
A) Raise your voice to show just how displeased you are, maybe even give her a swat on the bum and demand she never do anything of the sort ever again.
B) Calmly but firmly tell her “no,” take the marker away and sit her in a corner for time-out.
C) Ignore the problem entirely.
D) Make a point not to shame her, yell at her or punish her … she didn’t know better and was exploring as a child should. Instead, you take the marker away and explain that walls are not for coloring on and have her help you clean it up. Then get out a piece of paper and some crayons and explain that is where it is okay to color.
Hypothetically, 80 percent of people would choose A, according to a recent study by University of Texas, Austin, which concluded that a majority of parents still use corporal punishment to discipline their children. Yet another group would choose B — those who disapprove of physical punishment but feel that punishment of some kind is necessary to discourage bad behavior.
I am a D parent. I practice a parenting style often referred to as “peaceful parenting” by those of us in the community. My parenting goal is not to raise an “obedient” child through spanking, yelling, time-outs, coercion or otherwise forcing my child to behave in a way that I think is appropriate at all times.
The parenting goal of my husband and myself is to raise a child capable of critical thinking, compassion and respect — a child who has self-confidence, assertiveness and the ability to set her own boundaries later in life. The way I interact with my child sets a pattern for all future interactions and relationships she will have.
Peaceful parenting is not permissive parenting (i.e. option C above). We aren’t uninvolved, distant parents who let our children run wild with no boundaries, direction or guidance. But we do believe that our children are people, too. People who deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else. I wouldn’t hit, belittle or yell at anyone else I know. In any other relationship, such things would be categorized as abusive behavior — so why would I do it to my children?
I, as the parent of my child, am here to guide my daughter through her first stages in life. A role that is best served through leading by example, offering gentle instruction, giving her options, allowing the natural consequences of her choices to teach her appropriate behavior, fostering her curiosities and allowing her the freedom to express herself. Not by modeling violence and instilling fear.
The next several columns will focus on the reasons and research behind why I choose to parent this way, as well as practical tools for parents to implement peaceful techniques in their own homes. I hope to offer a new and improved perspective on parenting to anyone who has kids or who may ever have kids.
Kaitlin Moroney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org