Old School parents still feel the lessons are the important thing, and that ‘the rod’ is the most effective and therefore the right way to discipline, the way to keep their kids on the right path. New school families do everything they can to raise their kids in a more loving fashion and are attempting to separate discipline from punishment by various ways, using non-violent methods. Modern parents are all in a bind of some sort. The Old School parents are often operating outside of majority public opinion (and sometimes the law), and the New School ones are trying not to use the most reliable tool parents ever had, the one that always works, physical superiority.
Between the two extremes are the regular folk, neither part of an orthodox old school community nor part of the psychology or social work scenes, and they are in a tough bind indeed. Most of us were raised somewhat in between the two paradigms, but the previous generations, our parents and grandparents were closer to old school than new, and the latest few generations have heard the news from modern psychology. They want to be nicer. They don’t want to be like their parents, they remember their punishments, and not fondly; they suspect that it wasn’t good for them, and when they strike out to start a family, they want to do it differently. They just aren’t sure how. This is when many encounter what I call the ‘bait and switch game’ of non-physical or non-violent punishment, what we may call the New Parenting, in a generic sense. When that fails, these people – us, let’s not mince words about it – when that fails, we see two choices: work with it and fail (but fail in a gentler fashion than our parents did), or turn back and do it their way. This sentiment breaks my heart:
“Oh my God. My parents were right!”
If this is you, or someone you know, know this: they weren’t right, they were just winning. They were winning, but child-rearing is not a game, and it’s not supposed to be a fight. They were winning, yes – and we were losing. If that idea bothers you, if you won’t be happy doing the same thing, if you don’t want your children to lose that way, please, don’t go back. And don’t stay stuck either. There’s an answer.
Just don’t ever punish. At all.