Eight years ago I made a decision.
I decided that parenting with punishment was not only wrong, but harmful – and that I was going to do whatever it took to parent in another way.
Making this decision did not lead to instantaneous change.
Actually, it brought up more strongly all of the ways that I parented punitively and how I had internalized that parenting in such a way is necessary. Making the decision that punishment is harmful, based on immense and painful experience and research upon research, led me to a black hole – the black hole of domination and control which plagues our planet and the human condition. It’s not a place any of us truly want to be.
Chalk it up to the workings of my philosophical mind, but this descent has only helped me see the roots of punishment so clearly that I am actually able to disintegrate them. Through awareness and learning effective replacement skills in being with humans who have been here in these bodies for less time than me (aka children and teens), the decision I made leads me out of the abyss of denigration thrust upon youth by their “superiors” (aka adults).
Big words, I know.
We’d much prefer this parenting journey to be fluffy, calm, full of hope and joy. And it can be, but I won’t deny the oppression of children that still laces the interactions between those who are older and those who are younger. It is part of the picture, too, and it needs attention.
Be grateful, I am told. And I am.
I am grateful for the capacity to choose and decide, to choose to see what’s true and real in our world so I can choose to be harmful or helpful, to connect with those who choose similarly, those who are also dedicated to parenting with deep respect for the children we are entrusted, so I can more clearly see whether I am choosing to punish or collaborate with these human gifts in my life, so I can more consistently choose collaboration.
I choose collaboration – over and over again, in times of stress, in times of relationship repair, in times of calm, in times of joy. I come full circle. And the circle continues.
I made a decision and the courage of this decision still leads me today. What decisions have you made and how are they leading you in your parenting experience today?
Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope.