During the month of November here at Emerging Parents we will be focusing on the topic of discipline. From theological reflections, to practical advice, to funny stories we will hear from a variety of perspectives on the topic. I'm sure that we will disagree at times, but I hope we can all be open to learning from each other.

To view the posting schedule for the month and to find out when you are slated to post, click here. There are still openings for posting if anyone else wants to offer their thoughts or stories.

But to start off in our discussion of discipline, I thought it might be helpful for us to reflect on the structures of discipline we grew up with. How were you disciplined as a child by family, teachers, pastors, etc.? What impressions did such discipline make on you as you grew up?

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posted by Julie at 12:00:00 PM |


At November 2, 2007 at 3:06 PM, Blogger Brooke

My husband and I were both raised in conservative Christian homes where spanking was one of the methods of discipline used. (There were other things too, such as loss of privileges, being grounded or timeout). As new parents, we both have struggled with the idea of spanking, and just don't know what to think about this. I would love to hear others' thoughts and advice on this. (We are a still a little ways from having to discipline - our baby is only 6 months). Also, if there is a good book recommendation for discipline that is not the traditional "Dare to Discipline" approach.


At November 2, 2007 at 6:20 PM, Anonymous SJ Rhee

My family immigrated from South Korea when I was 6, so my family's cultural background has strong ties to the Confucian ideals of strict obedience to parents and veneration of elders. Add to that the fact that my parents were in a fundamentalist cult until I was 17. This cult taught that you should obey "God's servants" without question, and those who didn't were disciplined severely, sometimes even physically.

Although my parents took the proverb "spare the rod, spoil the child" to mean spanking, I can remember being spanked only on 3 occasions. My brother had it worse. I learned early on to avoid punishment by not letting my parents know what I was actually up to.

Due to my parents' deep involvement in the cult, my brother and I were on our own a lot, so we actually didn't experience much guidance or structure, just punishment when we did something wrong.

The cult played more of a parental role in my life, and they were pretty big on Hebrews 12, or wherever that "No discipline is pleasant at the time" passage is. Submitting to the discipline of your spiritual leaders was considered a mark of faith.

That crap really screwed me up for a long time.

I guess that's why when I became a parent, I steered as far away from authoritarian parenting as possible. I don't want my daughter to grow up in fear of me, and I don't want her to develop a life of her own that she keeps secret because she's afraid of being punished.



At November 2, 2007 at 6:47 PM, Anonymous sj rhee

Oh, in response to Brooke's comment above, I'm sure the topic of spanking can be controversial amongst Christians. I like how William and Martha Sears discuss spanking as well as the way they interpret the meaning of the word "rod":
They also have an article on beliefnet.com: Why We Don't Spank.

As for books on discipline, you can check out some of the books in the Emerging Parents blog recommended reading list: Recommended Reading

One book I might add is Adventures in Gentle Discipline by Hilary Flower. The book is made up of personal stories from other parents in their journey of implementing gentle discipline with their own kids.


At November 2, 2007 at 9:24 PM, Blogger David R

Julie, I'd like to write about discipline. My wife Beth and I have two daughers, Rachel (9) and Hannah (7), and we've never spanked, thought we've had very strict discipline.

How can I get a slot to write?


At November 2, 2007 at 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

we've really benefited from the "Positive Discipline" books. "Positive Discipline A to Z" is laid out really well, easy to look up ideas. It's especially good at dealing with power struggles. There's also a "Positive Discipline in the Christian Home" which has a great response to the "spare the rod..." way of discipline.


At November 3, 2007 at 8:29 PM, Blogger Jeff

Although it will be in Dec., my wife and I are going to see Jim Fay speak on Love and Logic. If any body is interested I could post something after seeing him.


At November 6, 2007 at 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

I come from a conservative christian background. I received spankings up until age 12. Then I was grounded for offenses. I am now the mother of four school aged kids. I only spanked the kids until they were around five. Now I take privileges away for defiance and lying. Other than that, I try to see my position as a parent as more of a teacher/guider. It seemed that my parents tended to discipline with an intermediate to high level of anger. That is the part of my discipline growing up that I choose to not use. Plus I lead by example. If I have screwed up and wronged one of my children, I ask their forgiveness. This teaches them that I don't know everything, it is ok to make mistakes, and to own up to your mistakes. In our post modern world kids need to understand that not everything is black and white. We need to be humble enough to understand that life is about continous learning.


At November 6, 2007 at 7:43 PM, Blogger Julie

David R. - I've added you to the list. Let me know if that date doesn't work for you.


At November 20, 2007 at 5:41 AM, Anonymous cynthia

Though I only remember receiving one spanking growing up and in retrospect, my mom was really more grace based, I fell into a very legalistic worldview when it came to parenting. I wanted to do it right. Sadly, that was more for my benefit than theirs. I wanted to be a good parent and the measure of that was well behaved children, right?

Our first fifteen years of parenting were legalistic, punitive and controlling. It was only when it all tumbled down around us and we saw what a facade it was that we turned, turned quickly around and totally changed our way of parenting. Though sometimes frustrating because of our lack of knowledge and skills, this has been a more peaceful, joyful, fruitful way of parenting.