Throughout time the age old questions that new parents have had to decide is how are we going to raise and guide our children when it comes to discipline. Some parents chose to follow the well- worn path of continuing to raise their children the way their parents chose to raised them. While other couples decide they want to change some things up from the way they were disciplined by their parents. Still others may decide they are going to raise their children completely opposite of how their parents raised them.
Let's look at the definition of the word discipline as defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
1. Discipline -
a. control gained by enforcing obedience or order.
b. orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
My husband Jeff and I were newly married we had not given much thought or conversation to how we were going to discipline our first child Tori. One day we found ourselves in the trenches of our first challenge with Tori doing something that we did not want her doing. Up until that point discipline with Tori had been almost a non-event so we had just been rocking along in the new parenting bliss.
We were taken by surprise when our adorable, amazing, sweet baby girl did the unthinkable! I could not believe my eyes when I saw her crawl over to the potted fig tree we had in our master bedroom. Tori pulled herself up to a standing position, paused and turn back to look at her Dad and me with a twinkle in her big baby blues , the most adorable smile and then every so smoothly reached her chubby baby girl hands into the moist dark dirt and with a giggle of pure delight began dropping handfuls of rich moist dirt on our creamy white carpet. Have your adorable kids every done something like this?
Jeff and I had that moment of unspoken communication where we looked at each other silently thinking. "Oh My! Did She really just do that? What do we do?" Of course, like most parents who have been living cloud nine with all the cuteness a baby brings, we hoped we would never have to face this day, the wake-up call, that our perfect daughter might not be 100 perfect. First, we sprung into action to move her away from the plant while telling her, "We don't play in the dirt and dump it on the carpet in our house." As I am washing her hands off, Jeff is on the hunt for the spray bottle of Folex. Doesn't Folex get everything out of creamy white carpet? After all this activity and on-the-spot redirection, we were sure our brilliant daughter had gotten the message and learned her lesson. Mission accomplished!
What do you think happened the next day? Same exact thing, in fact playing in the dirt in our master bedroom became a favorite activity. One day, Jeff and I decided maybe a little swat on her behind would get her attention. Without much thought I walked over to Tori and gave her a swat on the bottom. In that moment as I was swatting/hitting her bottom I had this feeling deep in my soul that this was not how I wanted to parent.
I like many were raised by loving and well-intended parents who used spanking as a form of discipline. In my experience every time that my parents spanked me it only served to make me angry.
First of all they were spanking /hitting me out of being angry themselves at my behavior. We did not have talk therapy in our home very often. You commit the crime, you do the time.
This taught me to have to stuff my anger deep down inside of me. There was no where to turn with the anger they were inciting in me except to push my anger and hurt deep down inside of me or I would get hit more if I dare challenge them.
So what did I learn to do by being hit when others where angry? I learn to hit others when I am angry. So they were unknowingly teaching me a behavior that many teens and adults go into therapy for...how to not repress emotions and how to express emotions in a positive way.
I could also sense when my parents had anger issues that they had not dealt with on their own because there is a very fine line between a firm swat to guide and a swat full of passive -aggressive anger.
We don't want a society going around hitting each other, we want a society where people communicate and are kind to each other. What are we teaching and modeling for our children in the privacy of our homes?
When I reflect on the teachings of Jesus where he guides us to do unto others as we would have done unto us, I can say without a doubt that as a child who was spanked growing up I would much rather have received patiently guided instruction from my parents with their words then to have them hit me with their hands or a belt.
As a adult do you want someone coming up and hitting you with a hand or a belt to correct you? The rod in the bible was used to guide the lost sheep back onto the path. If we are here to follow a path of doing unto others as we would have done to us then ask yourself do you want others to hit you if they do not like your behavior or want to change your behavior? I have never read anywhere where Jesus hit anyone anywhere, have you? In my heart, spanking and hitting my children does not feel true for our family. What feel true in your heart for your family?
Is your heart urging to try of new way of being with your family? You are not alone, I totally understand, as I have walked this journey many times. I have Free Gift to Help You and Your Family
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I decided to change my way of parenting!
And in that moment I chose to work with redirection as a form of discipline or guidance with Tori in our home. That was until it was time to potty train Tori.
Tori was 2 1/2 years old and from what I had read and understood about child development this was a good time to begin working on potty-training. One day while shopping in a big-box baby store I came upon a book by a highly respected medical doctor that promised to hold the secret to potty-training your baby in one-day! Wow, that is amazing I thought to myself and I purchased the book on the spot. Excited by the promise of freedom from changing diapers, I hurried home to learn the amazing secret to having Tori potty-trained in one-day!
After I putting Tori to sleep that night I jumped into my new book that was going to give me the secrets of being free of diaper changes within one day! Hurray I could not wait! We will be free at last! After reading the book I made sure that I had all the supplies that I needed to begin the adventure of Potty-Training in a day. I had several new pairs of underwear with Tori's favorite Disney characters or beautiful flowers on them. I had several cups of water or juice and a book about potty-train for Tori and I to read together while she worked on going to the potty. So we began to practice the potty training by following the check list in the book.
The potty-training checklist gave guidance on what to do if your child was successful at going potty by positive reinforcement and I like that. Then I turned the page and there was a list of what to do if your child had a accident. There at the top of the page was listed that the first thing you should do if your child has a accident while potty-training was to spank them. My first reaction/gut feeling was "What"? That did not feel right to this Momma. Then my head got involved and began to talk me out of my gut feeling, my intuition. My head was saying "Tracy this was written by a respected medical doctor, he knows what he is talking about, he said this process will potty-training your child in a day if you follow his exact process".
I am embarrassed to say that I allowed my head/mind/intellect to talk me out of what did not feel true in my gut feeling, my intuition. I put the book down and it was almost like under a hazy feeling I carried on the task of trying to potty-train Tori in a day just like the expert had written. Of course the inevitable happened...Tori had a accident and did not make it to the potty on time. I allowed myself to act on the guidance of the medical doctor and I pulled Tori's wet underpants down to spank my sweet two-year old daughter who was doing the best she could. The Doctor said that you are supposed to spank a child on their bottom if they do not make it to the potty on time and have a accident. After 45 minutes of potty-training Tori, I did what the Doctor prescribe in his book, I ignored my gut feeling and I felt terrible.
I will never forget the look in Tori's eye's and the ache in my stomach and my heart the moment I touched her bottom with my hand. This was not a hard spanking that I'm talking about as this is what most would call a light swat but it was enough to turn my stomach. This action did not feel right in my heart, soul, and I know by the look in my sweet daughters eyes it hurt her heart, soul, spirit her connection to God.
Deep in my heart, I could hear God ask me in my heart, deep in my spirit. "Tracy what are you doing to my daughter? Does this expert Medical Doctor's advice feel like the most supportive and true advice for potty-training Tori? Tracy who is the authority in your life?"
I answered, "You are God." If only I had listened you God, you were trying to reach me in my gut feeling, my intuition. You were trying to guide me God and if I had listened I would have not spanked Tori. My heart and spirit would not be hurting and I would not have hurt Tori's heart and spirit. If only I would have listened to you God! I let my head/mind talk me out of what was the best decision for Tori and myself. God was trying to get the guidance to me and I chose not to listen. I choose to let my head/mind and a book be the authority in my life instead of letting God and my spirit take the lead.
The more I allow myself to listen and act on my intuition the more successful and at peace I feel in my life. Sometimes my intuition may guide me to do something that is different from what everyone else is doing or they maybe they don't understand what I am doing. I have learned to be ok with other people not being ok with my choices. At the end of the day its between God and me. In the end it will only be me answering for my choices in life. I know its right for me because God is my personal life adventure guide. God is there to be your personal life adventure guide too if you choose!
What are some of the times that you listened to your gut feeling, your intuition or guidance from God? Did you follow your guidance and how did it make you feel? When we share our experiences we help our each other and our world family understand how to start listening and learning how to follow their intuition, gut feelings, their hearts too which brings more peace and joy to our lives.
Love, peace and joy blessings to you and your family,