Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sitting Quietly...sigh

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Consider this blog post my protest...because I should have protested louder when I was in the moment and I didn't.  I wish I had.

I'm sure this is common, but it seems to happen to me a lot.  I'm in a situation that I'm leading a discussion or support group of some kind and someone says something that is completely counter to what I believe and/or what the group is trying to promote.  I'm fairly skilled at getting around the comment and getting the discussion back on track, but afterwards I always think of something I should have said that would have actually had the person who "derailed" the discussion thinking about whether or not the choices they are making are the right ones for their family (i.e. I could "protest" their actions a bit...make them think about it more).  A big example of this is always around discipline.  Now, I'm not saying I have the best behaved kids ever, but they are pretty good.  They are respectful (usually) and kind (nearly all the time) and courteous (again, usually...we are talking about kids here!).  They are also children, not little adults, and I am careful about how I react to their mistakes.  My children have never, ever, been hit by an adult.  Ever.  I know what you are saying, and I hear you--I do!  I, like you, have had times when I have wanted to smack them to make the behavior that was driving me to drink just stop.  Obviously spanking is a clear solution and one that would be quick and easy.  But NOT hitting them??  Now THAT takes some thinking.  That approach takes work, time and patience.  And, it is an approach that I believe in so deeply that I get physically ill when I think about kids growing up in households that hit as a means of discipline, no matter how infrequently it may happen.

(I wonder if I should carry information around in my backpack so that I can hand out little pamphlets to parents whenever the topic comes up.  Of course if I took this approach, I would have handouts on discipline, breastfeeding, circumcision and local foods...I wouldn't have room in there for much else.  And people would probably begin to fear me...Oh here comes that crazy woman with all those pamphlets again--RUN!)  Anyway, I'm holding a discussion group a bit ago and the topic turns to discipline.  One of the mothers in the room says, quite frankly, "I'm a spanker."  She goes on to describe how when her older daughter was a toddler and reached for something that she shouldn't touch, she would get a few warnings and then a slap on the hand.  Of course this grew to full out spankings "when necessary."  I quickly jumped in with how there are loads of other ways to discipline children and the conversation moved back into territory that was gentler for children.  But then I got home...and I thought of all the things I could've/should've said.  All the information I could have given her about the harm she is doing, the distrust she is creating, the fear...but I didn't.  All I did was readjust the conversation to "safer" ground.  And there she sat, cuddling her precious baby at her breast without any further information.  So now all I can think of is how that beautiful little girl is going to reach for something as a toddler and get whacked.  Never mind moving the shiny crystal vase out of her reach until she is bigger, noooo...this toddler needs to be taught not to touch it.  Really?  Because while you are teaching her not to touch the vase, you are also teaching her that someone bigger can hit her.  I'm sorry, I simply don't agree with this!  Keep in mind, please, that as I'm rambling here, I am holding absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind AT ALL that this woman LOVES LOVES LOVES her kids.  She firmly believes that what she is doing is right and necessary and important!  We all want kids who respect authority and are kind and know right from wrong--I get that.  I simply disagree with how she goes about it.  Again, this woman LOVES her kids with all her heart and is completely devoted to them.  And, in addition to that, I'm sad about her choice of discipline. 

Leave it better is a motto I have taught my kids--whether we are talking about the park down the street, a relationship with a friend, or our relationship as a family.  Leave it better.  See trash?  Pick it up--leave the park better than you found it.  Fight with your friend?  Work it out and make sure it is better and stronger than before.  If my kid does something that goes against our family values, what can I do to help them see it was wrong and then leave the situation better?  I can see absolutely NO situation in which hitting them would ever Leave It Better.  It wouldn't help the situation and it wouldn't help our relationship.  Would it stop whatever behavior is causing the tension?  Perhaps...but does it make the person or the relationship stronger/better?  Absolutely not!

I'm not judging this mom and I've never been in her shoes so I don't know where she learned her approach to discipline.  I love and respect all that she has done for her kids--she truly has wonderful ones!  She is a pretty amazing woman!  I'm also pretty sure this mom won't change her disciplinary approach.  Which leaves me sitting here rambling about it while my heart breaks for her baby girl and that moment, that exact second, when she first learns that her mom is willing to purposely hurt her.

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