The Eighth and Final Square

with courage face the thing you fear so the pawn becomes the queen

I’ve never liked it when non-parents, or parents of very young children, talked about parenting and how to raise kids.

The reason being, the Big Bad Teen Years were still looming in the not-so-distant future.

How were those young parents and young non-parents going to prove their methods worked, if they hadn’t successfully brought a child through the teen years?

My dad would explain his methods of child training to other people. Stuff like, if your kid has an attitude, spank them. (As if the parents never have attitudes? And as if being upset about something is bad?) If your kid talks back, spank them. (Because the parents ALWAYS know best and even when the kid is trying to explain the situation, they’re always wrong.) If your kid didn’t respond right away or do what you wanted right away, spank them. (Because of course, a kid is never doing anything important!) If your kid hits his sibling, spank him. (Because we all know two wrongs make a right…) People would always say “Yeah, your kids are great NOW, just wait until they get into their teens!”

One time my dad told me those people were trying to “curse” him by hoping his kids would have wild teen years, just to prove him wrong and them right. The problem is, they underestimated the power of fear. And the “spanking stick”.

I remember my puberty years. I remember how awful my puberty years were. At the time, I didn’t understand that wacky emotions was normal for puberty. All I knew was that any emotions I displayed were 1. wrong and 2. due to “PMS”…even if I wasn’t near my period. I always felt misunderstood. For a while, I was afraid to reread my diaries from those years because I was afraid I would find that I was really the one being unreasonable. I wasn’t. Because of this obscene need for us to be perfectly obedient, “happy”, and well-behaved, my feelings and thoughts were made unimportant.

No, none of us “rebelled” (I’m SO going to write a post on rebellion sometime because it totally doesn’t mean what everyone thinks it means, especially in conservative/fundamentalist circles) during our teen years. At least not that the public could see. We had our battles at home, though very small ones comparatively.

I sort of feel like I’m rambling now, but there is a method to my madness. All of this to say…I don’t look with disdain anymore on young mothers talking about child raising. The reason is…these young women were raised themselves. They don’t have as much experience putting methods into practice, but they lived through whatever method their parents used and likely have some improvements, if not new methods.

I’ve gotta say, I would probably bank more on the methods of an ex-Quivering Daughter than that of any conservative or fundamentalist. I’ve been there too.

I’m still not going to write posts on how to be a good parent. But after my daughter is born (wow, saying that kind of gives me chills xD ), I will post about what I’m learning. Because I believe, more strongly now than ever, that parenting isn’t about “training” kids in the sense that my parents meant (ala Michael Pearl…spanking/beating your child into submission so s/he knows you are in control). I believe it’s a learning experience for both the parent and the child.

Last night, Scottie was reading through some of the Pearl’s material on spanking. I found out something very revealing: They believe there are basically two extremes to parenting. But the two extremes are more alike than they care to admit.

As a lot of you know, they believe in asserting your will over your child’s…spanking your child until s/he is “broken” to your will, and more. But basically, the same thing as my parents: anything and everything gets a spanking.

I call that lazy parenting.

Their “opposite” they talk about is parents who NEVER reprimand their children (or if they do, it’s in a screaming/nagging way), parents who let their kids do whatever they want without restraint, parents who are “helpless” to do anything, parents who have absolutely no semblance of order in their house.

I call that lazy parenting.

It was a big revelation to me when I figured out that all they did was take one version of lazy parenting (neglectfulness) to the opposite end of lazy parenting (a one-size-fits-all spanking).

It was then that I realized that raising a kid wasn’t so much about child training as it is parent training.

And it’s the hardest form of parenting there is.

I already know it’s not going to be easy for me. I’ve written before about how I like order, I like sameness, I like easy. I realize that in more ways than I’d like to admit, I have some of the same predispositions as my dad. But that is the laziness trap.

The hardest method of parenting is actually grace-based attachment parenting. Creating a relationship with your child. Teaching them values, the reasons behind why you say what you say. Creating a bond of trust. Working with your child, not against her. Recognizing the reasons behind his tantrums instead of punishing him automatically. Realizing these are little people, not little monsters or little animals.

But I’m up for the challenge. I don’t want to beat my children. I don’t even want to spank them. I seriously cannot fathom switching a 5-month-old. I’ve been switched before. It can break the skin! I suppose I can’t completely say I know what being a mother feels like, but I have a lot of little siblings. I’ve changed their diapers and had to carefully handle their red, bruised bottoms as they cried from the pain of my gentle hands carefully cleaning them up. I’ve sat at the dinner table while my dad spanked a toddler repeatedly for not knowing the meaning of the word “swallow”. I remember how I felt then. I imagine it is times 10 for a real mother.

I’ve been the daughter who was spanked unjustly because (among other situations) mom didn’t tell the complete truth, or she just wasn’t aware, and when I tried to explain, I was asked if mom was a liar, so I had to say no. I’ve been the daughter who was labeled “strong-willed” and had to be broken. I’ve been the broken daughter, with barely a spark of life left. That’s why this subject is so close to my heart.

I know I’m going to make mistakes as a parent. I anticipate it. But the one mistake I won’t make is making my children feel like crap. I believe to have my child feel loved and valued by me is better than for her to turn out the way I want.

Speaking of that, back to Those Big Bad Teen Years. Something else I realized about that is that my parents believe if their children turn out differently from what they, the parents, want, then they have failed. That’s not true. My thoughts on the subject are that if you don’t make such a big deal about them wanting a lip piercing, or green hair, then it’s not a problem. (Actually, most likely, if you don’t care if your teen has a lip piercing and green hair, they won’t really care to have one. It’s called “reverse psychology”. ‘Course it doesn’t always work, but I say there’s a fairly good chance!)

Besides basic moral failings, whatever a problem there is with your teen is because you make it a problem. That’s how I see it anyway. Wanting green hair isn’t a problem. It’s a way of expressing him or herself. Something like shoplifting would be a problem.

There is no battle. It’s not parent vs child. It’s two people on this journey of life. One simply has more experience than the other. That doesn’t make the child always wrong, or the parent always right. Children are smart. They absorb more than people realize. And if you treat them respectfully, chances are they will be respectful. They aren’t out to get you. They’re just as new to this being a kid thing as you are to the being a parent thing. And that does not deserve to be punished.

***

Here are a lot of links I’ve collected, mostly having to do with spanking, non-spanking, and Michael Pearl.

Even God Does Not Break Our Will–and why “breaking a child’s will” is NOT Biblical

Michael Pearl on CNN

Parenting Is Not A Contest

Mike & Debi Pearl and the cognitive dissonance of “Biblical” child-training

Your kids are communicating with you, not manipulating you

To Train Up A Child – Review by Brenda King

10 reasons not to hit your child

7 Parenting Tips to Consider

Christian Child Discipline: Is Spanking Biblical? (No!)

Confessions of a Free-Spirited Mom

Controllers and Manipulative People don’t Question Themselves

First time obedience, really?

Spanking and Trust

Spanking and Proverbs – Part 1: Context

Spanking and Proverbs – Part 2: Interpretations

Proverbs and Spanking – Part 3: Believer’s Behavior

You just broke your child. Congratulations.

Phoenix On August - 19 - 2011

15 Responses so far.

  1. Sandra says:

    I read several ex-fundy, ex-QF blogs and there is a lot of interest right now in why people spank their kids and the general revulsion in modernism about violence as a child-development tool. But I have yet to read about the number one reason I want to spank my daughter.

    She’s fourteen and I have wanted to hurt her repeatedly over those fourteen years. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I could take the respectful path. It has, surprisingly, much less to do with what she does/says/whatever than spanking parents want to admit. I know because I have another daughter who is thirteen who I have never once even thought about hurting. I also have spent many years teaching, in and out of preschool and elementary classrooms where I found plenty of frustrating kids but none I couldn’t manage without physical pain, none of whom hurting even crossed my mind.

    The reason I would dearly have loved to spank my first daughter is because she is EXACTLY LIKE ME and I despise having to confront myself daily when I look in her face, hear her words, see her behavior. In so many big and little ways she is everything I hate about myself (and everything I love about myself and so much more since she is her own person more than she is my reflection) and I want to kill those qualities, beat them right out of existence so I never have to admit That is Me.

    Jon Kabat-Zinn once wrote that children are the best Zen masters because they will invariably confront a parent with the deepest darkest aspects of the parent’s character. It is the hardest thing ever done, I think, to live 24/7 for a decade and a half with a mirror held up to one’s soul. I hope I have grown in that time, sometimes I wonder.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Those are some very good insights. My dad always said I was a lot like him…maybe that was a big part of why he was the way he was, to me at least. I think my mom saw me as a rival though. When I was older (18+), my mom was more likely to spank me than my dad was actually.

      Thanks for your observation!

      • Sandra says:

        slightly off-track, but what justification did they use to beat you at age 18? I mean, you were an adult. Did they go in for corporal punishment themselves as adults? Not in a kinky spanko way, I mean, did they think that physical pain and humiliation was an appropriate method of control for all adults? Or did it just come down to not recognizing that their own children had grown up?

        • QuicksilverQueen says:

          Just that I was their kid. Once their kid, always their kid, even as an adult…which to them, was only technical anyway, they still treated me like a child. My dad liked to say that he would spank us up until our wedding vows.

          They were in favor of bringing caning over to America as a way to deal with petty offenses like shoplifting.

  2. Sydney says:

    My parents often quote, “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” in regards to parents and children. They once went to a talk on parenting that was titled The Angry Child (crossed out child and replaced with “Parent”). That was a kind of eye-opener for them when they heard that. My parents were grace-based attachment parents (probably because their parents strict and harsh in their discipline methods alone and they didn’t want to do the same…they were not QF/P type homes). In many ways they were very unorthodox, which completely ticked certain people off…but they’re best friends with each of their children now and have our respect, whereas said people can’t really say the same about theirs. 😕

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      I’m glad your parents were like that!! I wish mine were!! It’s a really weird feeling to wake up one day and realize you really don’t have much respect for your parents, and realize you can point out all the places they went wrong.

      • Sandra says:

        yup, been there, done that. didn’t respect my parents choices in life for a very long time (still don’t really but at least have a better understanding of who the people were who made those lousy choices). the good news is that after about 30 years of barely tolerating each other, my dad and I have finally made peace in the last few years. I hope that everyone can someday find that kind of resolution with crummy (or downright horrible) parents. It doesn’t always happen, though, my mom died long before I or my dad was ready to tiptoe through the landmines so I never found my peace with her–and still haven’t with her memories.

        • QuicksilverQueen says:

          I hope someday there will be a resolution too. I’m glad you and your dad are on better terms…I’m sorry about your mom!

  3. Jenny says:

    It’s really all about selling books (seminars, tapes, whatever). They find out what buyers want (e.g., a fool-proof guide to child discipline, a biblical argument for spanking) and deliver it to readers who are just looking for confirmation of their own views. It’s the same with Jonathan Lindvall, Doug Phillips, Voddie Baucham, and others promoting their views on marriage and courtship rather than showing that it could even work with their own kids. They know that fathers want to hear that they can make better choices than their daughters, so that’s what they give them.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Yeah. Sometimes I really doubt all of them really care about families at all! Perhaps in the beginning of each of their ministries…then they get on a money-making high horse and never come down.

  4. Young Mom says:

    I totally agree with your Lazy parenting idea. So very true! And my parents claimed to be experts all the way up until their second daughter ran away from home, even though we were all miserable all the way through our teens, so even having grown children doesn’t make you a parenting expert. I definetly don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve enjoyed writing about my new discoveries as I’ve tried to shift my mentality towards parenting and children in general. I love all your links here, I’ll have to check out the ones I haven’t seen before. I think just being OK with not knowing all the answers has made a huge difference in my parenting, so you are going to do great! 🙂

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      even having grown children doesn’t make you a parenting expert

      That’s good to know, too 😉 My parents always looked down on young (“inexperienced”) parents who offered advice. Well…look where my parents’ methods got them 😉

      I really enjoy your parenting posts!

  5. Libby Anne says:

    It’s lazy parenting, absolutely, and it’s also so very formulaic. It’s like they’ve forgotten that every child is different and every parent is different. You can’t just make a mold and then force everyone into it, but that is exactly what people like the Pearls do!

    I think you’re daughter will be fine. 🙂

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      Yeah…formulaic, which is pretty much what makes it lazy. Do this, don’t do that, every single time. No thinking required. 😉

      Thanks 😀

  6. […] when nothing else works”. There is always something else. Anyone who resorts to spanking has given up too quickly. How do you even determine what “works” and what doesn’t?  An instant cessation […]

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Welcome! This is my space on the internet to explore myself and my life and find my courage to turn into a queen. My Quilt No content on this blog may be used or reproduced elsewhere without a link back.

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