Once I got my bachelors degree I thought formal education was over with the possible exception of pursuing masters or doctoral degrees. Over time, I figured out learning was a lifelong prospect. In my field, public relations, the industry has changed significantly with the onslaught of social media.
Parenting is no exception. There are numerous societal factors that have changed over decades as society has changed and evolved. To name a few:
- Civil rights
- Social welfare
- Bi-racial/Gay marriage
- Legalizing recreational marijuana
- Abuse: Spouse, child, elder, etc.
I’m sure I’m leaving something out but you get the idea.
It’s important to physically sit in a room with other parents as opposed to watching YouTube, reading online articles or both. Interaction is mission critical because you get priceless instant feedback from your peers.
Style and substance
There are as many different parenting ideas as there are stars above. My philosophy was, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” a closed-minded approach. How about, “Even if it ain’t broke, is there better fit for my family?”
Effective discipline without stripping kids of some rump roast or face was a very foreign concept. Shame and humiliation as motivators was wrong.
Instead I heard, “Give them enough rope to hang themselves,” and “If they never make a mistake how are they going to learn?” Well, I told them not to do “this” and commanded they do “that.” Wasn’t that good enough? Uh, no.
Eventually, I learned about “currency,” i.e., what an individual child valued or couldn’t live without. I also learned the difference between natural and logical consequences versus punishment. My parents rarely took the time to teach, reinforce, building on lessons learned. They beat and took things away. Punishment rarely fit the crime.
Applying lessons learned
Remember I said society has changed? Well, the following would have been impossible in 1920.
This past weekend I was in San Francisco all day. It was the first time I’d left my son alone for a whole day. He was thrilled. I was nervous. However, I wanted chores done and I knew his currency: Minecraft. He is allowed two hours per day unless it’s homework, which he’d have to prove. If you haven’t figured it out, parental controls are a must-have for 21st century parents.
I changed his password but gave him an extra hour. I left him a note with my list of chores to do before I came home. To get the password he had to text me photos that show he did the chores.
By 6 p.m. I gave up on getting any chores done. Then around 9 p.m. I got several photos proving chores got done. I didn’t even bother to look too closely. I was grateful he got it done so I sent him the password.
The irony was he didn’t want to get in trouble again for not doing them. This was a huge victory for both of us. I was proud he wanted to honor me and he felt good knowing he pleased me. His love language is touch so he got a great big, long hug from me.
That strategy wasn’t from a parenting class. I got the idea from other parents with whom I’ve been building community, i.e., church family, recovery friends, PTA, etc. I modified the idea for my son and voila! Chores got done.
No yelling. No screaming. No threats only incentive. This is after years of persistent, positive parenting and teaching my son actions have consequences.
Posts in this series
Parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder
Discipline requires training, love spelled t-i-m-e
Beatings/Spankings are abuse: plain and simple
Parenting, like marriage, requires work
Parenting is a lifelong-learning proposition
Stop, look, listen and ask yourself questions
The high art of juggling
Downtime: the golden goose of PTSD
Worldwide parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
Parenting is a high call no matter your lot
The drought before the drought
Being misunderstood is a symptom
You are being forged in fire
Awakenings podcast: Parenting with PTSD
For single parents
A tribute to single parents