Punishment and Respect
I’m gonna change my approach a little here, start making these things short and sweet.
So this third one of those will be on this idea here: if you punish, it instills respect. Otherwise why would they respect you? So a couple of thoughts:
Punishment is a betrayal, of communication, of love, of respect; to be punished is to have our personhood rejected and denied. Punishments happen when a more powerful person or persons has given up talking to or reasoning with us and simply treats us like an object rather than any semblance of a peer, or even a person. To my mind, this is a worst case scenario in adult relationships. At its best, it’s Mandela’s incarceration, a classic walk underground and into legend (though, let’s not forget, not a good time for him still) resulting from a considered difference of political opinion. Rest assured most of the outcomes of this everyday betrayal, punishment, are not so good. One thing at a time, though. Respect.
To my mind, punishment is the end of respect. After one punishment, maybe, after some good apology, but after a regular application of it? Talk of ‘respect’ is empty chatter, mind-boggling hubris. A half-century of post-Skinner parenting crap literature never seems to acknowledge that you can’t have discipline from punishment and respect at the same time. I’ll tell you though: you’ve got a choice, and I repeat, you might not lose trust and respect the very first time – but don’t push it twice.
Have we really forgotten how it felt when we were the kids? Really? How many of us only come to respect our parents later in life, after we’ve spent a few decades dishing it out on our own kids? How many of us never do? We weren’t born disrespecting, they earned it – and we understand them after we earn it.
Jan. 20, 2016
This is a great message. I remember being told that we needed to respect our parents, however, now that I am older I realize my parents themselves did not truly know what respect was. Looking back, as a child it was very confusing.
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this is the sort of thing I can’t say at some places and be heard, this is exactly what the Not Safe For Parents group is for . . .
I actually didn’t understand this post. Not everyone has parents they can come to respect so what are you demanding of parents/children/family/society in this essay? I know you are writing your novel so please don’t let me distract you and only answer if you have time.
I think I can help you refine your subject tho.
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I’m sure I failed – writing, communicating isn’t as easy as one might think! – but I was trying to stick to the very specific point, regarding punishment and respect, the way many people seem to understand it. No, punishment does not instill respect, at least not the highest sort of respect. It may bring the sort of ‘respect’ we have for venomous snakes, but not the sort of respect that would make you want to hang around, not the sort in the phrase “admire and respect.’
Oh… I see what you’re saying. True, like how spanking kids is ineffectual and talking to them like humans and including them helps them reach their own empathy. Cool.
Yeah writing is hard. I am actually no good at it! Thanks for clarifying. You didn’t fail. Not at all. I have a lot of respect for parents who don’t rule through fear and threat of “failure”. You’re kids get to learn from mistakes and not be defined by them. That’s so precious and rare. Good for YOU!!! 🙂
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