Can you imagine it? Can you ever even conceive of taking a stick to your child as punishment for some errant behaviour?
It makes me feel quite sick to think about it, but this is what happens in some cultures – there’s a controversy about it in America now which Hugh Muir talked about in the Guardian last Sunday (read the article here).
As he says in his closing statement our ‘cultural baggage’ can impact on our own parenting. We are inclined to pass on what was passed down to us if we’re not thoughtful and considered.
There was never ever any kind of violence in our parenting, despite what was doled out to us. I find the concept quite disgusting and no different to assault. And it’s certainly not good parenting; there’s another approach that works in guiding our children’s behaviour without any kind of horrendous ‘corrective’ measures.
It’s the power of demonstration.
The most powerful parenting tool we have is our own behaviour. This is similar to passing things on as Hugh Muir suggests, it’s just that we pass on the idea of ‘good’ behaviour to our children instead of passing on the punishments we received!
A child’s natural instinct is to learn by copying. So basically, we can parent and teach by the way we are.
We ‘teach’ our children how to behave by the way we behave.
Show our children how to learn by the way we learn.
Show them how to treat others by the way we treat them.
Show how wonderful the world is by our own interest and reactions of wonder.
Show them how to interact, make responses, be polite and caring and considerate by the way we do.
Show them how the real world works by engaging with real things and encouraging them to do so.
Show them how useful technology or language, or maths or science is to us every day as we use those things in our every day lives.
We teach them how to respect by the respect we show.
We teach them what’s acceptable by acting in acceptable ways.
And above all we show them what it is to love by the way we love.
Our actions are the most influential parenting of any sort, the most influential way of educating. Because ‘actions speak louder than words’ as the saying goes. Our actions will be a far more powerfully guiding influence than anything we might say.
Besides, anything we dole out to our children we are endorsing as something acceptable for them to dole out to others.
So whether we are parenting or teaching our own at home it’s worth examining our actions and deciding what it is we want to pass on!