Last night I had another adoption training class. This weeks class was on discipline. It was by far the most enjoyable class so far, because most of the time we were brainstorming problem solving solutions in our table groups, and I had a very fun table. Also talking about discipline is just way less stressful than talking about abuse, which has been the focus of the past several weeks.
As I've been going through this process, I've thought a lot about how I was raised, how I deal with children in general, and how I plan to parent. I was curious to hear what the official DHS stance is on discipline mainly because I don't plan on ever "punishing" my kids. Turns out foster parents aren't allowed to punish their kids, so that works out great.
When I was growing up, I never had any punishments, or any real rules for that matter. My parents just trusted me to make good choices and I somehow managed to live up to their expectations. That doesn't mean my parents were neglectful, they were both junior high school teachers and simply had very realistic expectations.
Any time I made a mistake, my parents would tell me exactly why I shouldn't do that ever again. And I couldn't get up and go back to whatever I was doing until my parents believed I fully understood why I'd made a poor choice, because they wanted to trust me to make good choices in the future. Sometimes I wished they'd just dish out a punishment because it would have been simpler than sitting through a lengthy lecture about self-respect and self-empowerment.
But in the end, I think I turned out pretty good. My reasoning for trying to make smart choices in adulthood has nothing to do with fear of going to jail or any other external punishment. I make smart choices because I know the difference between right and wrong and I respect myself enough to want to do the right thing.
So that's what I plan to do with my future kids too. I'll reward good behavior and put on a disapproving look when they make mistakes and pass out consequential lines like "you've breached my trust". But I'll never spank my kids, or ground them, or even take away TV time. That just sounds like way more work than it's worth, and according to DHS isn't allowed anyway.