I'm not perfect, so sometimes my attempts at disciplining my kids don't go as planned. For the most part my parenting style is a true mix of good cop/bad cop, and it's not easy to straddle that line. I usually lean more to one side or the other, leaving my kids to wonder if I'm Jekyll or Hyde on any given day. That doesn't mean anyone gets a say in how I reprimand my children, though. In fact, there are more than a few questions no one gets to ask me when I'm disciplining my kid. At the top of that no-no list? Anything involving spanking. It's no offense to anyone who chooses to utilize that method, but I've done it a time or two and I've never, ever felt as though it fixes anything.
In my experience, all spanking (or any form of corporal punishment) does it fracture the relationship I have with my kids while simultaneously teaching them that hitting is the answer. Personally, that's not the lesson I want them to learn from whatever negative behavior or actions they've shown. I think there are better, more effective ways to right a wrong. As a result of my personal belief, I've implemented time-outs, restricted privileges, established an early bedtime when necessary, and use other, gentler methods of discipline when possible.
On the other side of the authority coin, I'm also the "yeller" in the family. I loathe this about myself, to be sure, and believe it comes from growing up in a household where I never felt heard. It catches my children's attention, sure, but their response isn't usually what I intend to elicit. I don't want them to cower or shut their eyes in fear of me or my voice. That doesn't teach them anything. I don't want them to feel misunderstood, or as though I've skipped right over establishing open lines of communication and jumped right to shouting or raising a hand (or whatever quick, short-sighted emotional response I choose in the moment).
I want my kids to respect me, and I've learned over the years that's not something I can demand. Instead, I have to lead by example. It takes practice — and, again, I'm not perfect — but if the end goal is to raise happy, well-adjusted kids that go into adulthood with the right emotional tools, it's important I continue to straddle that line between good cop and bad cop. This is why you don't get to ask me any of the below questions when I'm disciplining my kid.
"Why Don't You Spank Them?"
I realize, and accept, there are advocates on both sides of the aisle when it comes to spanking. Where some swear by gentle punishment, others are vocal about spanking. As I said, though, the few times I've lost my cool and resorted to this type of discipline, I never felt good or accomplished as a parent. It didn't take the tension away or teach my kids a lesson. Instead I felt guilty, as though I didn't deserve to be their mother.
I remember being spanked as a child and, for both me and my parents, nothing was ever resolved because of it. If anything, it pushed me farther from them and made me want to act out more. Regardless of your stance on spanking, when I'm disciplining my child in a way that works for us, it's not up for debate.
"Have You Tried Taking Privileges Away?"
Yes. All the time, actually. Sometimes it works, and sometimes one of my kids feels a little more defiant. I tend to gravitate slightly towards the lax side of punishment, because overall my kids are well-behaved. Defiance from them really isn't much to get worked up over, so I typically try the path of least resistance first. No matter what privileges I do, or don't take away, it's really no one's place to question me.
"Don't You Think You're Yelling Too Much?"
I'm working on it. Generally speaking, I'm quiet and reserved. As a mother who works from home and the primary caregiver to my children, I put up with a lot and let things build until I erupt. I don't prefer yelling, and as with some other forms of discipline, it isn't all that effective at times when my kid just needs a real conversation with me about what they've done. It takes a lot of work to undo behaviors, though, so when my kids act up I constantly have to check myself. I don't care about your opinion on how I'm doing with it, though.
"Have You Thought Of Counseling?"
Again, yes. Not that it's anyone's business, but I've taken my oldest to counseling to help with our communication issues. She's approaching those tween years with reckless abandon and I'm not ready in any way. Counseling helped slightly, but because I've been going myself for many years, I know it takes a lot more than a session every few weeks to figure these things out. Whether we go, or we don't, don't ask me about it. Just know communication is key when it comes to discipline, and we're working on it.
"Do You Really Think Your Kid Is Sorry?"
I've been asked this sarcastically, and while I get the tone and context implied, I'll handle interpreting whether or not my kid is sorry for what he, or she, has done.
"Do You Honestly Believe That Will Work?"
I get that some methods seem a little light, or maybe I'm not doing enough, but the other side of being "lax" is me losing my temper. I'd much rather lead with love and light, trying all the other things I hope will work and even if they don't seem strong enough. Deleting games on an iPad, removing privileges until the behavior has been corrected, or doling out extra chores may not seem like discipline, but I assure you, they are, and I know by the way my kids behave thereafter.
"Are You Going To Punish Them Or Coddle Them?"
If it were up to me, I'd happily stay in the middle forever, but I guess it depends on my kids and how they mature. Will they learn the lessons I've been teaching, or will they continue making the same mistakes where discipline is needed? That's the thing. They're kids. They're supposed to make mistakes, and they're bound to act up sometimes and question authority and push against set boundaries. My reaction is what matters. I can choose to lead them in ways that will make a positive, everlasting impact.