Discipline is something all parents have to work on and make decisions about. But those decisions are so important. Not only because they'll affect your family and your children, but also because the wrong choices could be tragic, as they were for the Schatz family in California. One of their children is dead, and another in intensive care after they implemented the methods of the Pearl's and No Greater Joy Ministries. Granted, they took those methods to the extreme, but when the methods center around planned hitting with wood and plumping line, one doesn't have to take it that far to become extreme.
What decisions a parent makes about their discipline style has a lot to do with what they believe about people in general and children in particular. The Pearl's believe that children are born sinful, but are not responsible for their actions until they are older. They believe that children, even babies, are capable of intentional manipulation, and that spanking will remove guilt from a child. With that in mind it's easy to see why they teach the importance of "switching".
As a Christian, I believe that we're all born with a sinful nature. But I believe the only thing that can remove guilt from a soul is the blood of Christ. Not spanking. I believe that people do what works, and that can look like manipulation. But I don't believe that young children are intentionally manipulative. Most importantly, I believe that because Christ took our punishment on the cross, we don't need to punish our children. Religion aside, I can't seem to find any good rationale for spanking. The studies have shown over and over again that it's an ineffective method at best, harmful at worst.
I believe in consequences, discipline, and boundaries, taught with love and gentleness. In our house that involves a wide range of disciplinary tools that are used based on child and situation. But I strongly believe that children should grow up with the understanding that their bodies are their own, and that they don't deserve to be hit by anyone. And when we are less than perfect in how we go about things, we talk to our kids and, if necessary, apologize.
Gentle Discipline, as a style of parenting, is worth a look. It is offering us not only the short-term solution to behavioral problems, but sets the foundation for a long-term relationships with our children. There's nothing in the world I want more than to be an important part of my children's lives when they're all grown up.
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