Discipline…In Hindsight
December 8, 2009 · Posted in Adult Children, Discipline, Parenting · Permalink


The following is a piece by Laura Stephens, program coordinator for Soho Parenting and editor of Parentalk.  Laura gives us the young adult perspective on life after being launched.

I turned twenty five yesterday.  With a quarter century under my belt I can look back at my childhood with a more grown up perspective.  Here at Soho Parenting I see how much thought and energy parents put into thinking about discipline and limits for their children.  Half-way between being a child and being a parent myself is an interesting time to reflect on the way my parents approached discipline.

I really gave my parents a run for their money, constantly doing things I wasn’t supposed to.  My parents never wavered in their belief that consequences should always follow breaking the rules.  Their punishments evolved as I grew up.  “Now I’m going to give you three spanks”,  turned to “time out!”, and then switched to,”No friends after school”.  Some punishments felt unbearable – no phone calls or instant messenger for 3 weeks, losing the privilege to have my beloved dog sleep in my room.

As a typical teenager I despised their rules, but in hindsight, I see that somehow those rules gave me a sense of security. That may sound strange, but it is so true.  Unlike my friends who could guarantee that despite a two week grounding they would surely be at the party Saturday night, I always knew my consequence was set in stone.  My parents were steady and firm. Though I made my best attempts to get out my “sentences” it was to no avail.   When it came to deciding and executing their ‘punishment strategy’, they took time to calm down, they consulted together before responding and made the terms very clear. Most importantly they stuck to their word -EVERY time.

I responded to this like any adolescent would – with complete abhorrence.  I would become furious when they insisted on waiting for the other to come home before telling me the details of my punishment.  I hated how specific they were when defining my ‘grounding’ – a sign that they had thought this out and would stick to it.  But I am so glad they did. Bottom line was that despite how much I hated the immediate effects, I could rely on my parents as trustworthy, dependable people.  My family life, though far from perfect, provided me with stability.  I could rely on my parents;  their word was my truth – and this knowledge as a child and then a teenager was monumental.

I am sure this capacity to be a reliable source for my future children – especially when disciplining – will be greatly tested.  If my kids are anything like me, the process will be tough.  It will feel easier to be lax here and there – retract a punishment by a few days to avoid a tantrum.  But like me, all children desperately need to know they can trust and feel safe with their parents. I know that the benefits of the hard work of sticking to your guns far outweighs the immediate relief.

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  1. D.O.
    December 9th, 2009 | 11:02 am

    I think today’s post was the best ever – VERY timely for me personally. It was incredibly tangible, real, insightful, and heartfelt. Seriously great.

    More importantly, Happy Birthday. Something tells me that, no matter what your parents got you for your birthday, you just gave your parents the best birthday present ever in the form of that post.

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