Parenting Advice Column Subject: Marshmallowing
I have B.A.'s in psychology and education, and I'm always interested in the human condition. I have two grown children. I stumbled across your home page and saw with interest that your child has been homeschooled, and I assume, never had the corporal punishment experience. I would love to hear about some of your experiences raising a child in this manner; the good and the bad stories.
I have seen some nightmarish results from parents experimenting with an ultra-lenient, ultra-sensitive style of upbringing. I see what is happening in the public school systems (I am a certified elementary school teacher) and I fear for the future of our children and our nation. There appears to be a complete breakdown in discipline, morality, and education across our entire society. how has your child's upbringing dealt with these issues?
Brian de Geer
Many parents describe methods of parental guidance according to the degree that they are "lenient" or "punitive", when in reality it is possible - and preferable - to take an entirely different approach by simply accepting that a child is a human being who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is not "lenient", it is humane and fair; it is also the most effective means for gaining cooperation and good will.
With this approach, it can be possible, and even effortless and joyful, to provide responsible direction for a child in a non-hurtful way. Kindness does not mean "laissez-faire". At the same time, parental authority must not mean callousness. It truly is possible to be both responsible and kind. It can be difficult, though, if the parent rarely received this kind of treatment from his or her own parents.