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Old 03-05-2011, 10:09 AM   #1
Katigre
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Default "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

I'd like to discuss this. I have seen the question of whether something is punitive or not come up freqently the forum lately. This post is not directed at any particular thread/poster/discussion, but rather is a topic I think is relevant to discuss separately. Onto my thoughts...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It seems to me that parents struggling with GBD often ask discipline questions in the context of whether something is punitive vs. gentle.

Often, this question is a result of parents feeling unsure how to evaluate their response to unwanted behavior. They believe that 'punitive is bad' and 'gentle is good', but don't have a clear working definition for how to evaluate discipline choices in the light of those values.

This dilemna seems to leads to a permissive-punitive swing as they try to 'be gentle' which becomes 'i have no tools to enforce boundaries if the kids don't agree'. When things are pushed far enough, the parent reacts with a harsh consequence born out of frustration rather than a deliberate choice in teaching. This back and forth scenario is very confusing and difficult for both parent and child to navigate, and leads to the worst kind of behavior for everyone. Without a consistent pattern of interaction established in the home, no one knows what to expect or how to adjust. It also leads to misunderstandings of how GBD works.

I personally find the question 'Is this punitive or not?' to be unhelpful in figuring out GBD responses to misbehavior. Equally, 'Is this gentle?' can lead to the thinking that anything spoken in a firm voice or enforced physically (such as carrying a tantruming child out of a store) is 'ungentle'. In the midst of problem solving, this specific question ('punitive or gentle?') can block proactive brainstorming and finding strategies for connecting with our children and teaching them.

Instead, when I am approaching a situation with the kids, I focus on these types of questions when problem solving (let's take the issue of siblings fighting over a toy):
"What response teaches/enforces healthy boundaries?"
"Will this response help keep everyone safe?"
"What values do I want to teach in this situation?" (respect, patience, kindness, etc...)"
"Will my response teach them a pattern for how to act in the future?"


Those questions are proactive and encourage me to think through GBD in a positive way (not as a reaction against being punitive, but in positively choosing it as the best option for my family).

The purpose of this forum is to equip parents with tools - not just practical tools for managing XYZ unpleasant behavior, but also proactive tools for the parent so that they become established in a GBD paradigm. I think figuring out how to rephrase the 'is this punitive?' question into something that promotes more immediate problem solving is an important tool (at least it is for me with my kids).
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Last edited by Katigre; 03-05-2011 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

Can't find the lightbulb smilie, but OH! I wonder if that is where my dh struggles. He will use that syrupy sweet voice "sweetie will you do XYZ please" in an attempt to be gentle or tell the kids "stop, stop, stop" over and over, but then when they step all over his boundaries anyway he gets irritated and blows up at them. I wonder if in his mind, he is thinking that he knows he doesn't want to spank, yell etc, but doesn't know what TO do. I keep showing and telling him what TO do, which he often does, but I don't think he has quite internalized WHY to do it.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

I like this line of thought.

Perhaps the core question is more about, "What do I want to accomplish?" I don't really know... Sometimes I think, "Who's side am I on?" (If I'm on 'my side' feeling like the child is the problem, that's a warning to me -- but if I'm on 'the child's side' working against the problem for their sake, that's OK even if they don't like it or don't see it that way.)

I think a core skill of GBD is the ability to see ourselves clearly and be honest with ourselves when looking at our motives. Because I can justify things if I want to, and so can anyone else -- saying, "I'm acting this way for their own good" -- but a grace-motivated parent has to be able to face the reality that that's not always true, take note of those situations as mistakes (without falling into self condemnation) and work forward with their eyes open, as a learner... it's tough.

It helps if you come from a theological place that emphasises an incarnational view of ministry. (Meaning: the indwelling Spirit is doing the ministry, and we provide the 'flesh' to enact it as His co-worker.)
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD


God knows I need this...I have such a struggle exerting authority anyway without knowing what is punitive and what is not...
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Old 03-05-2011, 04:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnfire16 View Post
Can't find the lightbulb smilie,
:idea
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

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Old 03-05-2011, 05:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

this is good.
i know im personally so polluted with the punitive mindset, its hard for me to apply these totally different concepts practically..they make sense in my mind but then theres this lack of confidence and im worried i'll blow it and ruin my kids
i guess thats what we're all scared of?
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

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Old 03-05-2011, 07:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

I guess I take comfort in the fact that kids are very hard to "ruin" -- the resilient little creatures have grown up in coal mines and wartimes, famines and medieval times...

Certainly we can enhance their experiences, their pschology, and their habits of character -- but I think it takes actual neglegence or malice (and plenty of it) to truly ruin children.

I think of GBD as a great way to maximize what I can contribute to the lives of my kids, but I refuse to live in the fear of accidentally doing them some kind of great and irreperable harm.
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:39 PM   #10
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

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I guess I take comfort in the fact that kids are very hard to "ruin" -- the resilient little creatures have grown up in coal mines and wartimes, famines and medieval times...

Certainly we can enhance their experiences, their pschology, and their habits of character -- but I think it takes actual neglegence or malice (and plenty of it) to truly ruin children.

I think of GBD as a great way to maximize what I can contribute to the lives of my kids, but I refuse to live in the fear of accidentally doing them some kind of great and irreperable harm.
the warning in Proverbs stress the importance of discipline. my principals and my conscience tell me that spanking is wrong, but thats just all i know. (geez thats sad) but when everybody you know is against you on the subject- and look at you like you're a heritic -and when your husband is telling you that the kids are going to grow up to act like idiots if we dont spank them.. I start to doubt myself, my conscience.
the set of principals that gentle discipline is based on are clear and solid to me, so i dont doubt them at all.
but, anyway. its like wearing a chicken suit and walking backwards all day- it just still feels foreign to me sometimes. like i have no idea what im doing. ok. im done
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

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i know im personally so polluted with the punitive mindset, its hard for me to apply these totally different concepts practically..

this exactly.

some of us have minds that have been so poisoned that we really just can't tell the difference anymore and are trying to feel our way through this with the help of other gcm'ers. we really dont know where the line is drawn, what that line looks like or how to recognize it. when we ask "is this punitive" its because we honestly can't tell. everything is so mixed up. its hard to have relationships with full grown adults sometimes, nevermind very very small young people. its not because we are "missing the point" its because we just dont know up from down and we need someone who DOES get it to help us find our way through.
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:47 PM   #12
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

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Old 03-05-2011, 07:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katigre View Post
"What response teaches/enforces healthy boundaries?"
"Will this response help keep everyone safe?"
"What values do I want to teach in this situation?" (respect, patience, kindness, etc...)"
"Will my response teach them a pattern for how to act in the future?"


i can ask myself these questions all day, but when you've grown up entrenched in harsh punitive discipline, physical punishment, shaming, and the like, you dont have a healthy concept of boundaries, you justify spanking by saying that it keeps them safe, you equate fear with respect, and refer to principles of b-mod to teach patterns for how to act.

and this is coming from someone who found this website when my firstborn was an infant. i cannot imagine how difficult it must be when you've been parenting for a long time before trying to make the switch.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

Quote:
Originally Posted by jessisblessed View Post
i cannot imagine how difficult it must be when you've been parenting for a long time before trying to make the switch.
its, like, sickeningly hard. sometimes i feel so unjoyful trying to do this mom thing
i was raised by a single father too. so- im like some harsh man-mom.
sorry.."was". im getting better
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Last edited by SweetCaroline; 03-05-2011 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:22 PM   #15
Chaos Coordinator
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Default Re: "Is This Punitive?" is missing the point of GBD

(i'm having a really bad day so if my posts seem unnecessarily harsh or, even irrational or unreasonable, lets just blame it on that )
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