Volume 79: Patience or Punishment?

Posted on 02/25/2014


Parent ProverbFrom time to time I like to do what I call a “blog reset.” Reset is a term that I learned doing talk radio (Shameless plug: Tuesdays 8-10pm EST). Anyway, reset means that we restate some items previously covered because we may have picked up new listeners along the way. Resetting the show provides them a short summary to provide context for an ongoing discussion. It’s radio’s way of keeping people engaged. So, in order to provide the context for today’s post, I need to do a blog reset for my new readers.

As many of you may know, I have two wonderful children whom I love very much. You also may know that I went to grad school for counseling, with an emphasis on child psychology. This background would make some believe that I should have a good understanding of their behavior – especially why they do (or don’t do) certain things. As a professional, I was fairly successful at diagnosing and treating my clients. As a parent, welllllllll, let’s just say I’m a work in progress.

It’s not that I’ve lost my ability to understand child behavior when it comes to my kids, it’s that I lose perspective. Counseling, at its most elementary level, is a form of control. I controlled my clients by getting them to believe that I have their best interest at heart and that I know a better way of handling life’s challenges. As a parent, I control my children with antiquated phrases like, “Because I said so…” among others. It is the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do mentality which many parents employ that can disrupt the child rearing process. It can deteriorate the parent-child relationship, unintentionally incur rebellion, and frankly, make you want to slap the isht out of them! But, we can’t (and won’t) do that. At least, we shouldn’t. So, as any confused parent with a penchant for blogging, I take it to my readers.

So, I ask you, “When it comes to parenting your children, which do you employ more often: Patience or Punishment?”

I realize that much of my parenting style comes from my experiences as a child – good or bad. And for those of us that had a parent who was, welllllllll, less-than-stellar, there is a tendency to swing the parental pendulum in the opposite direction, or unconsciously do exactly what they did. Admittedly, I’ve done both. Am I more involved in my children’s lives and activities? No question. I’ve been told that I am a super dad (maybe I’m embellishing, but it’s my blog). At the same time, I have the tendency to want to control their behaviors in the same way my “less than stellar” parent tried to control mine. (Side note: Moments of personal clarity suck because it can be an assault on your self-esteem. I’m admitting I don’t have all the answers, when my ego wants to say otherwise.)

My parenting insight came when I realized that my behavior transitioned from feeling a loss of control, to attempting to get more control, to disengaging altogether. Where was compassion? Where was perspective? And, most importantly, where was patience? I displayed all of these traits with my clients; however, very little when it came to my children. My patience had plunged into a prison of persecution and punishment. After all, the cliché says, “father knows best“, right? I mean, even the Bible supports my authority with verses like “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1); and, “Train children in the they should go; [and] when they grow old, they won’t depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). I’ve got the power of clichés and verses from God. Who needs patience and understanding? I do. And so do you…

Punishing children for being children is like cutting off your nose to spite your face (I’m on a cliché roll now). It makes no sense. Do I want my children to be more obedient? Absolutely! Do I think my way for them is the best and they should follow my every instruction and command? That goes without saying. However, when my less-than-stellar parent attempted to control me more, the more deviant I became, and the less I listened. My behavior became more about not being controlled and less about listening to what they were saying. So, if I want a different outcome for my children, I need to engage in different (aka less controlling) behaviors. That just hurt to admit…

Parenting, by itself, is difficult. We are charged with trying to teach someone how to become self-sufficient and productive citizens. When you add the context of less-than-stellar examples, old wounds not being healed, and a spouse that has their own experiences and context to deal with, it’s a wonder we don’t have more fools out there than we already do, LOL! Now, I don’t know where you fall on the patience vs. punishment continuum; however, I will say just one last thing: I’ve never heard punishment be described as a virtue.

That’s just my three cents,


“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”