The shortest way I can imagine expressing my theory of child-rearing is this: punishing messes us up, just like abuse, and it actually causes bad behaviour, so if you can avoid the use of any sort of punishing – even in the Twitter format, it still needs repeating, any sort of punishing, for the first five years of your kid’s life, you will never need to consider it again. At least that was our experience. Anecdotal to be sure.
So, I’ve been known to draw the parallel with adult punishment, criminal justice and prison, that at some point we must admit that the pain we bring doesn’t mostly make our criminals nicer, but I hadn’t extended the thought all the way yet. What would the prescription be? Five years (give or take) for a human child, how much time for a criminal sub-culture, years for a person, generations for a demographic? Perhaps, but hopefully not five of them – but we must know that generations will be the unit of measure and I’ll bet my eye teeth that two could never be enough. So.
Three to five generations of gentle social coaxing, sixty to a hundred years of not fighting fire with fire, not fighting the abuse of crime with the abuse of fear and retribution, before . . . to follow the pattern of my life as a parent, of my kids’ response to a complete lack of discipline, before what? Before we never need to consider it again? OK, the numbers are a guess, of course, but the principle . . . I hadn’t gone this far, and I didn’t plan to.
Is this . . . envisionable?