Punishment is Retaliation

Such a simple sentence, yet so profound, it has permanently changed me.

Punishment is retaliation.

Discipline is a choice from within, rooted in integrity, awareness, and purpose.

Management of self and one’s emotions is necessary to provide a stable, reliable, harmonic environment for relationship and the beneficial growth of children’s minds.

Sometimes we just need to look at our world through their viewing portal… What a generation of empathic, aware, and respected humans we could grow.

I will begin a series on the value of guidance vs consequence delivering/punishing (what our society so often labels, “discipline), including punishment vs simple result over the coming weeks.  I have not had the ability to devote the amount of time and focus here that I have hoped this past year, but with a bit of luck, our conversations will inspire and much thought will follow.

Welcoming a year of blessing, benefit, and reverence.

 

 

I Had Always Just Assumed I’d Spank My Children – One Mom’s Journey to Seeing

This is, quite possibly, the most eloquently written composition on this subject (specifically the Biblical aspect of the subject) that I have ever read.

This woman has two subsequent related posts, of which I will address in separate posts here.  But start with this.. just read and sit with it for the time it chooses to leave you its essence.

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Grace

January 8, 2011 by discipleshipmothering

My Letter to Focus on the Family

Hi,

I am a long time listener and supporter of Focus on the Family. From the time I was a teenager, I listened to and from school and college, collecting much wisdom for the path ahead of me. A strange thing for a teen to do, I guess. But, I truly love the Lord, and wanted His best for my future. I hold a high respect for Dr. James Dobson and his marriage advice. I’ve been very happily married for almost ten years.

However, when I had my first child, Dr.Dobson’s advice nearly broke my heart. I’d always assumed I’d spank, and followed his advice for my spirited 2 year old. I cannot express to you in words how wrong it felt. The spirit of God was convicting me, and this precious son, whom I’d nursed for 21 months, and had continued a very close, in-synch relationship with, even through the addition o a new baby, when he was 28 mos….become afraid and distrustful of me. Not only that, it wasn’t working to improve his behavior. He fit the bill for “strong-willed”, certainly. But, could he be beyond hope, since the very method tailored to his personality wasn’t working?

With much prayer, my husband and I began to research other discipline methods. I came across gentlechristianmothers.com in my search, and discovered some very eye-opening statements about Biblical discipline.

Out son is now 4 yrs old. We are complimented often, at church, by family and friends, and even by strangers, on how happy and well-behaved our children seem. Life is not perfect, and he’s not a perfect child. But, we are a much more peaceful, loving family since learning to discipline with the Grace of Jesus.

What I see lacking on your website is acknowledgement that these verses in Proverbs may not mean what we think they mean. You can do the research yourself and find that there are many reasons to doubt that these are commands to hit children. More than likely, they are wise principles for being a constant source of authority for our children. The OT has many things to say that are covered under grace. Another good example is the treatment of women caught in adultery. We all know how Jesus chose to react. This should be the ultimate example, among many in the NT, of how to apply grace.

I write this because the advice from Dr. Dobson about strong willed children is at worse, very dangerous advice for new parents. And, at the very least, it is impractical and unecessary. I say dangerous because it’s using God’s Word to convince parents they must hit their children. I believe there are FAR more Biblical principles we can apply to child discipline, besides a few commonly misunderstood proverbs, written by a king who ended his life in such disgrace against God, and was held with such irreverence by his own sons  (Solomon). Let’s instead apply the wisdom of Christ, Himself.  How did He disciple? How did He view children? What principles of love, forgiveness, reproof, and correction can we glean from the NT church?

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind completely about spanking. It is so ingrained in our culture, most people don’t think twice about NOT doing it, as I once thought. However, I hope my letter will at least open the eyes of Focus on the Family and it’s wide-spread influence, to impact the world with Christ’s love.

My husband and I have experienced a total life change, and it has not been easy in the face of criticism. But, thus far, it has been one of the best decisions of our young life. It is my prayer that one day, Dr. Dobson will realize his mistake and change his heart on this subject.

Many Prayers,
(My Real Name)

I’ll keep you posted if I receive a reply.

 

Spanking is Not God’s Will

This means not allowing your child to go down the wrong road that could lead to a premature death.  This has absolutely nothing to do with actual crying as Dobson and many other Christian advocates of spanking believe!  Children need limits.  We wouldn’t let a toddler run out in the street to be run over by a car.  But instead of spanking the toddler, we should firmly tell the toddler that the street is dangerous, and then show the toddler the safe way to cross the street holding onto Mommy or Daddy hands.  Does hitting a toddler really teach him or her why the street is dangerous and how to be safe?  No!  It teaches them that danger makes Mommy and Daddy hurt me.   That Jesus wants me to be hurt when I’m in danger.  Remember, young children cannot make abstract connections like adults can.

 

Please take a moment to read the rest of the article found here, as well as the three that precede it in the series.

No Defense, Just Reflection

A beautiful reflection of a heart wounded…  Please take a moment to read and reflect on your own life.  I also want to encourage any of you who feel so compelled to reach out and share yourself with this writer.

S O U R C E

Processing Spanking

Spanking.  A huge hot button topic. I know.  And now, with post #1, being somewhat normal, and post #2, being an emotional cry, I figured it was okay to break up the hot button topics in post #3.Knowing that my parents loved me, and would do anything for me, and yet still processing how spanking affected me is a very painful process.  I feel like I am the problem. I feel like the feelings and effects spanking had on me are unique to only me, and that if I were just “better” in some way, I would not have the severe emotional trauma from such a “normal” childhood event.  To put this post in perspective, let me just spend a few moments to brag on my wonderful parents.  My dad is a wonderful Godly man.  He isn’t afraid to take the uncomfortable road.  He is more generous that most people I know.  He is deeply committed to taking care of the needy, and reaching people with the gospel of Christ.  I am, and always have been, a daddy’s girl. <3 I remember going on daddy daughter dates.. I remember being a able to cry in his arms. I remember how excited I would be when he would get home.  My daddy was always the #1 man in my life, until I met Pine.. And now, he still is very important to me.  I want his approval, and I have strode to get it my whole life.  I feel safer, and more secure if he tells me I am doing well.

My mom is a very strong woman, with a heartbreaking past.  No one should be able to be as healthy as her considering what she has gone through.  My mom probably would understand the deep soul searching I am doing now, if it didn’t hit her personally, because I have seen her do the same things.  Evaluate the way she was raised.. Try to keep the good, and get rid of the abusive, unhealthy patterns she was raised with.  My mom was committed to our characters no matter the cost.  And she has cried many tears, because she felt as if she never lived up to it.  I can totally understand that feeling now as I look at my own little boy, and think of all the mistakes I have made in such a short time.

Spanking.  To this day, we (my parents and I) do not agree on the topic of spanking.  I can point you to a hundred different studies that show why spanking is unhealthy.. I can show you a hundred different stories like mine to show how it affects people. Not all people, but enough to make me think twice.  But that’s not the purpose of this blog. For once, I am not going to defend what I have come so strongly to believe.  Instead, I am just going to write out my feelings.  My vulnerabilities, my anxieties, my memories.  This is part of a process towards healing..

I remember being spanked often as a child.  Sometimes several times a day.  I remember the panic that would well inside of me as I was forced to bend over.  I remember instinctively, uncontrollably rolling off the side of the bed to avoid the spoon, or belt, or hanger.  I remember trying so hard to stay still as they hit me.. Because I knew that if I did move, I would get more. I remember crying out in fright, frustration and anger “I am not trying to move! I can’t help it!”  And I remember getting the extra lashes anyways.  My parents did spank in anger, but some of the worst spankings I got were done “correctly” My parents were not visibly angry.  They explained in quiet tones why I deserved what was coming.  They explained that it would all stop as soon as I repented.  The amount of shame…  A sick, dark cloud of shame would hang over my soul.  I am not talking about my conscience here.  I think that the word shame means something very different than guilt.  Guilt is something you feel because you committed a wrong action. Shame is something you feel, because you are worth less.. Your very value is defined by an action, or how someone perceives you.  I would be spanked, a minimum of 10 times.  That seemed to be the starting point to the best of my memory.  When I got better at staying still, it would only be 10.  Otherwise it would be until I had received 10 in a row without moving away from the blows. Every time I flinched to hard and moved to the side, the count would restart.  After the spanking was over, my parents would hold me.  I remember being terrified, humiliated, and scared to do anything that would displease them in the least, lest the nightmare repeat itself.  I would sit in their laps and pretend I was sorry.  I learned that tears of “repentance” really made them happy.  I became a fake repenter.  I felt bad about what I had done, don’t get me wrong.  I even wished I had not done it. But not because it was wrong.. But because with the punishment came the terror of shame.  The sick feeling of worthlessness, and a total and complete failure as a person.

This dynamic I think, is why I am having such a hard time understanding the grace of God.  God does not love me because I “perform”.  And God’s love does not change when my actions or attitudes are not pleasing to him.  God’s love is constant.  I learned the opposite.. That acceptance and otherwise love is conditional on performance.  And I also learned that if the person you were trying to please thought you were doing right, then you could earn your acceptance, and still behave the way you liked.

There is more than that though.  A darker side of spanking.  One I have voiced very rarely, and one that is deeply humiliating.  And that is the sexual side of spanking. Even typing this out makes me shake a little bit, and the nerve endings in my bottom twitch uncomfortably. Its something people don’t talk about.  But I am not alone in the way it felt.  Before I had any idea what sex was, or how different parts of our bodies reacted in different ways, I always felt… encroached upon whenever someone even brushed up against my butt. Spanking was a nightmare because of it.  I felt dirty, and deeply humiliated by the act of bending over, and willingly allowing someone else to invade that which was so deeply private to me.  By humiliated, I don’t just mean embraced.. I mean a feeling so strong and dark it would make me physically ill.  I don’t remember any of my siblings struggling so much with staying in the one position while the spanking was administered.  But I literally could.not. stay still without trying to move away.  It took years of training before I could force myself to, and even then my entire body would flinch.  I didn’t realize until after my husband tried to show me sexual attention with my butt just how unsafe I feel. I have a hard time when he shows me intended and healthy sexual attention, because every time he touches me, it throws me down across a bed, and my whole body flinches to get away.  The invasion of the basic boundary of my body was devastating.

My parents did not sexually abuse me.  There was not one spanking that was intended in any ill manner. I know this with 100% certainty.  I also know they have no idea how it felt.  And I have no intention of telling them.  It would cause to much heartache.  If they even believed me.  Processing these feelings has been very hard.  Actually confronting them, instead of shoving them so far under the surface has been deeply painful.  But even now, I know my parents loved me.  They sacrificed, money, convenience, and so much more for us kids.  They did many things right. They taught us the value of hard work and honesty. They taught us that wrong actions often have unpleasant consequences.  And they never once fathomed a simple routine “godly” spanking could cause so much harm.

That thought scares the bejabbers out of me.  Aspen!  My son.. The one I would die for much in the same way my parents loved me.  How is he going to understand and feel the things I do only for his benefit?  Am I going to so deeply invade his personal boundaries, to where the simple thought of it makes him quake and shiver with fear, hopelessness, worthlessness?

Not all children have such a harsh reaction to spanking.  But if you presented everything in this post to my parents, I am sure they would say with certainty it never affected their children this way.

I have so much fear of hurting Aspen unintentionally. But yesterday I realized something.  God is forcing me to deal with the hurt and pain I suffered.  He is working healing in my heart. I have forgiven my parents, and love them dearly.  Really, what God is doing in me now, is a fulfilment of his promise to my parents.  He is being faithful to them to fix the mistakes that they made.  I can only trust that he will do the same for Aspen and Sappling, and any of my other kids.  There is no such thing as a parent that will not cause their children emotional distress. That I am sure of.  I am equally convinced that God has the power to heal the wounds I make in my children, that I have no idea of.  He is faithful!  And that is so encouraging to me.

I don’t think my parents would understand that I am not angry with them if I shared this with them.  I don’t think they would understand that my facing and processing this is a sign of His deep and everlasting love and faithfulness not only to me, but to them.  I have no desire to hurt them, so I probably will never share this with them. There really is no purpose.

I praise God for the changes he is making in me… And tonight, for the first time, I thanked him for healing the wounds I will inflict on my own children.


A few related posts…

A Letter
Why Spank? Well, It Works. Embarrassment is a Powerful Tool
Why Timeouts Are Even Worse Than Spanking
Beyond Spanking, Beyond Training: A Look At Our Littlest Minds
Humiliation – Far Reaching Effects on Children, Adults, Society
Toddler Spanking


The One Who Makes You Think You Must Be Losing It

THE BOOMERANG RELATIONSHIP

Passivity, Irresponsibility and Resulting Partner Anger

Lynne Namka, Ed. D © 1998



One of the hardest patterns of behavior for all of us to deal with is passive aggressive behavior. Passive aggressive behavior happens when the person avoids responsibility and attempts to control others to keep them away through his passivity and withdrawal. It is a dynamic born of fear of being controlled, fear of confrontation, hidden anger and an inability to deal straight with people.

Passive aggressive behavior is complex and takes many forms. We all have passive behavior that comes up when we don’t want to deal with conflict directly or do a task. We all hedge, fudge and remain noncommittal on issues some of the time. That’s normal. It’s only when repeated passivity creates severe issues for others setting up continual tension and anger in the household that it becomes a serious problem that should be addressed. Common examples of this habitual, passive retreat style (read Silent Treatment) of dealing with confrontation and stress include:

  • The person who says one thing but means the opposite.
  • The man who acts passive but aggressively gets his own way by not doing what is wanted.
  • The boss who squelches his anger then strikes out indirectly. (Perhaps by withdrawing.)
  • The woman who says yes when she means no; then gets cold feet and refuses to follow through.
  • The teenager who agrees up front then doesn’t do what he agreed to.
  • The client who schedules an appointment but does not show up.
  • The person who fears self assertion and confrontation, but says no by sidestepping responsibility.
  • Anyone in the family who creatively gets out of doing his or her part of the chores.
  • The Mr. Nice Guy who puts on the sweet face to agree, then does what he darn well pleases.
  • The student who procrastinates with studying and does poorly in school.
  • The parent who refuses to discipline the children and insists on the spouse being the ‘heavy.’
  • The bored housewife who refuses to clean the house or cook for her family.
  • The person who refuses to hear criticism, discuss his problems or read books about the issue.
  • The dad who pushes one child hard but allows the other child to get out of responsibility.
  • The not ready to be committed man wanting someone there for him but feels entitled to his freedom.
  • Any individual who spends his effort into under achieving in school, in relationships and in life!

What all of these people have in common is that the significant people in their life become very, very angry at their resistant behavior. The negative energy in the relationship boomerangs from one partner to the other resulting in an unhappy relationship.

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While women can have passive aggressive behavior, this condition is more typically found in men, therefore this article will focus on the typical male version of this dynamic. The typical passive aggressive man has not worked through his anger and power issues with his parents so he replays them in current relationships. His anger comes out in passive way of avoidance.

Psychologist, Scott Wetzler, in Living With the Passive Aggressive Man: Coping with the Personality Syndrome of Hidden Aggression From the Bedroom to the Boardroom, discusses the dynamic that sets up passive behavior. There are many childhood set ups for this way of coping but most often there is a domineering mother and a father who is ineffectual. Or there may be a passive mother who gets out of responsibility by her helplessness. There are power struggles in the marriage with one parent backing off and withdrawing. The boy feels trapped between choosing loyalties at home. He is afraid to compete with his father who is absent either physically or emotionally or perceived as being inadequate. In the typical mother dominant-father passive relationship, the boy learns that the job of being a man in relationship is to escape the woman’s needs and subsequent demands.

The young boy is not allowed to express his feelings and develop a sense of self. He wants his mother’s attention and care yet he resents her continual intrusion. His anger grows but he cannot express it so it becomes submerged and is expressed in an unconscious ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’ He is not allowed to get his way by direct confrontation and competition so he learns to displace his anger through resistance. He learns to use charm, stubbornness, resistance and withdrawal to protect himself in power struggles. He rebels by becoming moody, being an underachiever or developing behavior problems. His self protectiveness and duplicity from the squelched anger and hostility becomes a habit that he plays out with other women he meets. He desperately seeks a woman to meet his needs of being accepted for who he is, but puts her off with small, continual acts of rebellion. He replays the distancing drama of his original family In the relationship.

Agreement, Resistance and Hidden Hostility as Major Characteristics

The man with passive aggressive behavior needs someone to be the object of his hidden hostility. He needs an adversary whose expectations and demands he can resist as he plays out the dance he learned from his parents. He chooses a woman who will agree to be on the receiving end of his disowned anger. He resists her in small ways setting up a pattern of frustration so that she gets to express the anger that he cannot.


Keep Reading…

Resorting to Violent Correction in Dangerous Situations

This is absolutely beautifully written.  I shall direct you to her blog for many more tender morsels that hopefully will encourage you on your journey.

S O U R C E

The Danger Dilemma

One grey area in the Gentle Parenting debate seems to be what to do about dangerous situations. Many spankers argue that they only find spanking necessary when their children attempt something dangerous, and they feel no compunction against using physical punishment in those cases. I feel qualified to dissect and hopefully expose this argument, because I was one of those parents. I thought it better to smack my child’s hand then to let him experience a cut or burn.

One of the moments when a child MUST know absolutely that his parents love him- no matter what- is the moment he has found himself in danger. Children need a refuge- a safe place to run.  Think Prodigal Son. So what happens when, after obeying Mom’s order to come back off the street or to drop the sharp knife, a child is punished? Don’t they need something ‘for shock value’ just to communicate how terrible that thing was they almost experienced? Shouldn’t a parent ‘do something’ to inform the child of her fear for him? Pain is a deterrent, right? If my child learns to associate pain with a certain thing- say the oven for example, or the word ‘hot’- isn’t that a good thing?

Life threatening situations are the one thing that parents think gives them the right to at least punish, and usually spank or confine or both, a child.  It is our fear speaking in that moment…a fear that often turns to anger at being afraid. We direct that anger towards the child who, ‘should have known better’. When a child who has never attempted anything dangerous attempts something dangerous (and he/she will) punishment still doesn’t work. Either the consequences of the act will be enough, or they won’t be- and then a parent’s job becomes to modify the environment or provide supervision until the fascination with the forbidden thing ends.

Maximus learned very early what HOT meant. I’d pour coffee while he was balanced on my hip and he’d reach for it. Over and over every day he’d hear, ‘Hot! No touch! Hurt baby!’ He stopped reaching for my coffee. A year later we started cooking together. He complied with my instructions regarding the stove and oven. I NEVER expected him at the ripe old age of 3.5 to lay his hand on the burner. Angels must have been working overtime that night, because he barely got burned. A while later, he snuck cheese off of a pizza right out of the oven and burned his fingertips, mouth and his forearm where he laid it against the rim of the pizza pan. That burn has healed- but a red scar remains… Now when I’m cooking and he gets too close, I remind him, ‘remember what happened to your arm?’ and he steps away. I watch him as closely now as the 2 year old.

My warnings were not enough. No matter that I had taught him that ‘Stove’ was ‘hot’ and ‘hot’ meant ‘hurt’ he STILL didn’t understand that a burn equals pain. That is something he would never have understood without the experience. Of course I wish he could have learned that lesson without the pain, but I think we all know life really doesn’t work that way. So many people would suggest I smack his fingers so he ‘learns’ that if he touches the stove he’ll be hurt. But children do not learn well by conditioned response. This is one area where Dr. Dobson’s reasoning and my experience conflict wildly. When you repeated smack a child’s fingers for touching things, two things happen. The first lesson that the child learns is that it’s bad to touch things, period. That leads to problems later when you wish your child would be interested in trying new things, but you have inadvertently taught her to avoid anything interesting. The second is that the child becomes desensitized to pain in this regard. If you’re a spanker, you’ve probably seen this phenomenon. The shock of the smacking wears off.

Another thing- in regard to ‘shock value’; Not every child perceives a spanking in the same way. I have realized that Maximus may not feel pain very sharply. Spankings never seemed to have any shock value to them, ever. When I think of the things I tried to get his attention…..I feel sick. That time he burned his forearm? He never told me! He nevercomplained about it…until the blister popped when he scraped it on something. I never knew it was that bad! It took a month or more in healing and the spot is still visible.

In regard to running away- into the street, etc. – Maximus responded quite predictably when I spanked him for running away. He started to run away whenever he thought I was angry with him. When he saw me coming, he ran farther away. 🙁  The first time I got to him and did not spank him…he didn’t know what to think. After a bit, I could call to him, ‘Maximus stop and wait for me.’ and he would- because he knew I wouldn’t hurt him. A while after that, I could call to him to come back and he would meet me halfway, take my hand and walk calmly back to the house with me, often telling me he was glad I was there.

My point is that when I stopped trying to enforce the wrongness and danger of what he was doing, I started to get the results I was aiming at- Safety!  He started to pay attention to me, and take my instructions seriously when I. Calmed. Down.  That was (not so) coincidentally the same time I actually started enforcing the boundaries for him that I had previously set. I began going out and getting him immediately as soon as he left the house without me (instead of yelling several times). I put a second lock on the screen door that he could not open. I started going outside with him more often- I realized he needed the sunshine and the free space to roam. We took more walks. (I got off my lazy duff) Every time he tried to get out without me, I re-stated the boundary- ‘You may not go outside without Mommy or Daddy.’

Gradually, he began to stop trying to get out by himself. He started asking to go out more often. One day he asked to go outside when I was cooking and Minimus was napping. I told him I couldn’t go out, but that if he could stay on the porch, he could go out without me. He did! We worked our way up from there, each small success granting him more freedom as my trust in him grew. He had to stay where I could see him from the porch, and he HAD to answer me when I called his name- or he had to come right back in. The amazing thing is that when I needed to go out and bring him in because he had violated those boundaries, he would often come in without a contest! Sometimes I just had to ask, other times I had to go get him, but he didn’t run from me anymore. I had earned HIS trust back once again.

The surest way to help a child deal with danger is to first keep them safe; second, allow room in the boundaries for small developments in safety skills; and third, set a clear boundary and enforce it.

 
greenegem

Punitive Timeouts & Spanking: Equally Damaging

As you read this, if you are unaccustomed to my beliefs or written tone and rhythm, please go here first.  Then, as you read, keep Ken’s comments in mind.

I am in a state of aggravation, spurred by injustice, impossible scenarios, no sleep, trepidation over the damage I may be causing my child with all this transition (moving, traveling), and struggling through a significant crevasse between my husband and I.  Right now, I am not whole.  I am torn in two, with a thread of goo left dangling in between. Please forgive my attempt at coping by using sarcasm instead of sheer wit and completely pure communication.  I’m jaded and in protective mode right now… and as if life isn’t large enough as it is at the moment, I have found myself being expected to conform or defend some of my core beliefs to some very real and large, tangible people (outside my home’s walls, but not far from them).  One of the topics is the use of timeouts.

Somehow, me saying that timeouts are torture in my opinion isn’t enough to get the various people to which I refer above to leave me alone.

____________________________________________________

What is the point of a time out?

From the adult’s perspective, if we’re honest, first and foremost, hopefully the answer to that question is to insist a child realize they have evoked your disapproval by their actions and behaviors.  Second, to be completely honest, it is to give the adult a moment’s peace, during which they do not have to contend with the child’s behaviors and actions that are causing frustration.

We accomplish our task by forcing our child to endure rejection, isolation, and dehumanizing “space to think”, which if they had managed to “think” in the first place, they would never have allowed themselves to be forced into the position they found themselves in – the experience of ostracism by a trusted, loved, care giver.

Below you will find links to subsequent posts as I complete them related to the subject, picked apart concept for concept, and sometimes sentence for sentence.  I hope you will summon your curiosity and continue the learning process, open your mind to your child’s world view, and soften your heart so that a greater knowledge and understanding might enter your parenting and the future health of your child (and you).

Too spiritual, mystical, out-there talk??

Ok, here’s the same thing without the flowers and fairies:  Timeouts cause the brain to sense physical pain because it is in fact, a deliberate action of forced isolation, rejection, and detachment, even at the most “dutiful and appropriate” level. What’s worse, that isolation, rejection, and detachment is being forced upon a child powerless to prevent it by the very entity that is supposed to represent a safe, secure, and protected place/person (be it a parent, teacher, etc).

The betrayal, on multiple levels, is astounding and horrifying.

It’s real.

Don’t believe me?

Try this: Cause those around you to purposely ignore your presence, the other adults you see as valuable for one reason or another, in your daily life. Now, make it so you cannot stop their lack of or refusal to acknowledge you (otherwise known as “removal of positive reinforcement”) until you conform to their will and wishes, or until you regain their approval in some way (if you are capable).  Tell me this is not damaging.  Tell me this doesn’t hurt you. Tell me that it doesn’t make you squirm, angry, resentful, vengeful, and ultimately needy.  I dare you to try.

Now, take that one step further and view the same scenario through the eyes of an under/undeveloped child, inexperienced in social and emotional behavior patterns, still forming a fundamental sense of self and confidence, not capable of fully understanding why, or what they have done to loose the approval of others that resulted in this forced rejection and isolation. (May bet is that if you use timeouts, or spanking for that matter, you do not fully disclose pertinent thoughts to your child, as that might just give them too much knowledge to use against you at some point, so there is a good chance that the child is not fully aware of all aspects of their infraction.)

My take?  Smacking a child may possibly cause less scarring than using timeouts/ostracism, and you all know what I think about using violence and spanking, smacking, hitting, whipping, or using any sort of like action – that being to strike, in any manner.   The reason is simple: Spanking causes humiliation, fear, and physical pain.  Ostracism causes all the same, in addition to a loss of perceived self value, loss of approval, pain of rejection, fear of isolation, and the prevention of remedy (while they sit there thinking about what they’ve done, they are effectively prevented from generating a resolution or remedy).  The amount of psychological scarring and damage is doubled.

Please understand that if I am made aware of your choice to hit your child, and you’re within arm’s reach of me, I will hit you in the exact manner and force you used on them.  And then… maybe I’ll ignore you after, just to make sure you get the full effect of the devaluing and dismissal.

___________________________________________________________________

Ok, here we go……

I have had parents tell me that using timeouts is an excellent option for them, it gets great results.  I cringe.. if you understand anything about me, you know that first and foremost, I believe it paramount that we raise our children with intelligence, the ability to reason and understand their world, respect for their world (this includes those who are in a position to care and provide for them), and a curiosity to explore, develop, and learn.  THE moment I hear a parent tell me that they’ve figured out a system to manipulate their child, for the sake of their own will and desire, regardless of why or what, I start to ache for their little one.  Then, I find out they hit them (ok, spank – really, show me what the physical action of a spanking is, now repeat the action with the same force using the same tool either against a piece of foam like the kind you use in the base of a fake plant, or a brick wall if you’re brave and dumb enough.  It’s the same action as hitting, and when the object makes contact, let’s see what happens).  OR I find out they faithfully don’t spank, “would never dream of it, that’s awful and abusive”, but oh yes, they definitely use timeouts, otherwise known as rejection, which includes the transmission of obvious disapproval, and then of course the torturous forced isolation aspect.  Yes, that’s a great solution.

That same parent, in their next breath, ridicules their child passively, dishonors their child’s autonomy and dignity by speaking about them as if they are less, and typically though standing right there, the parent behaves as if the child is not in the room. Then, as if to redeem themselves in the face of, well, my face, which is typically by then contorted and unable to hide the pain it feels due to the unavoidable sense of compassion and dismay I feel for the child, they begin to offer semi-relevant praise “about” their child, that they sort of direct through their child in hopes that I’ll buy it and encourage them that they’re really a great parent after all.  All the while, their child is standing there knowing full well that the praise is empty, that it has a hitch or some sort of catch and they’ll hear about it as soon as I’m not in the room, and that their parent will insist they acknowledge the efforts and praise offered, as if it is an obligation for the child to also validate the parent, as the parent insisted I do.

But I don’t. And to date, only one parent has stood their ground long enough to start asking me why I won’t buy into their ploy and help them feel good about themselves, so that their kid is forced to do the same thing… Only one parent has ever had the courage to question my refusal to help them make their child feel inferior, of course that’s not really what they want, they just want to be superior.

The parent that asked me why it was that it seemed as though I appeared to think they were full of shit, is the same parent that an hour later broke down in front of their child, crying, while sitting on the floor in front of the child, begging the child to forgive him for his arrogance, sense of entitlement, and gross oversight of the true value of his child.  The child responded with compassion and bewilderment, and didn’t say much.

The two left that night, together, connected in a way they’d never been, with a mutual respect present that was brand new.  The child admired the parent, though he was confused and didn’t seem very trusting or certain of the situation.  The parent discovered the immense worth and complexity of his child, and found that he too held a high level of admiration for the child, it had just been hiding under the surface for years – 9 years to be exact (the child was 10 years old).

I heard from this father about a month ago, his child is now 12.  This father is still struggling with allowing himself to truly acknowledge and respect his child’s autonomy and worth. He is driven to seek reasons and actions that justify him feeling and thinking this way, before he demonstrates this belief to his child.

We talked about this concern and the father indicated that he, himself, held a deep resentment toward his own parents and other care givers for never allowing him to feel as though he was a legitimate and useful contributor, simply because he was nothing more than a child.  He grew up assuming that all children were nothing more than something to be dealt with, tolerated until they’re grown, appreciated for what they do that pleases the adult (and in truth, mimics the adult’s preferences), but not too highly appreciated lest the child become arrogant… it goes on and on.

It’s a simple point of attributing a lessor worth and diminished degree of legitimacy to a person, simply because of their age.  We, as a human race, do this to each other based on ethnicity, language, religion, wealth, and gender. We’d be truly crazy hypocrites if we didn’t do the same thing because of age too. Come on, really.. we’re not that dumb, are we?

The positive side the father reported, however, was that his child and he shared a mutual respect for each other, and instead of punishment for error, the father had learned to use logic, reason, natural consequence, and give his child room to error, room to disagree, room to explore and discover, room to question and seek guidance – instead of shoving it down the child’s throat, and room to return respect and admiration for the father that can so deeply love, if he allows himself to be that vulnerable.

The real catch is, this father changed not only the dynamics of his relationship with his then pre-teen child, but that decision affected his relationship with the child’s mother immensely and brought the two parents back together in a mutual love and respect that neither had ever experienced in their former relationship together. Now, each member of this family knows they are valued, appreciated for who they are and what they think, admired for their efforts and dedication, and respected because they are, not because of what they do or don’t. Love found a place to call home and it took root. And this kid, let me tell you, is one emotionally healthy, intelligent, and confident kid, with a boatload of personal integrity and ability to demonstrate compassion and dedication like none I’ve recently seen or known, of the same age.

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Now, to discuss specifically the harm and damage that is the actual result of using a timeout punishment system – quite possibly the most poignant and intelligent perspective I have ever come across regarding the use of timeouts:

What you probably didn’t realize is that the silent treatment is a form of ostracism. When someone is ostracized it affects the part of their brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. Do you know what the anterior cingulate cortex does?

The anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain that detects pain. When you give someone the silent treatment you are causing that person physical pain. Simply by ignoring someone else’s existence you can inflict pain on them. This is what the ever popular “time out” with a child is so effective. The child feels ostracized, therefore is feeling pain even though no physical pain was inflicted on them, and therefor they want to behave so they don’t have to feel that way again.

The silent treatment can be a very destructive behavior when it involves personal relationships. Let’s say with a husband and wife for instance. The silent treatment breeds bitterness on both ends and it borders on emotional abuse… I’m not making that up to be dramatic. That’s what “they” say.

S O U R C E

Then, we take a look at this from another angle –

Numb to the pain

It turns out that “hurt feelings” may be a more valid term than most of us think. Research by Williams suggests that ostracism triggers the same area of the brain that’s active when we feel physical pain. He and his colleagues used FMRI to examine what happened in the brain when people played several versions of “Cyberball”: Participants were either included in the game, excluded having been told their computer wasn’t hooked into the network, or intentionally excluded.

Each time participants felt excluded—even when it was unintentional—the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex lit up, according to findings published in Science (Vol. 302, No. 5643). This area is well-known for being part of the brain’s pain detection system, says Williams. Participants also reported feeling emotional pain.

Williams’s findings make sense from an evolutionary perspective, argue Leary and Geoff MacDonald, PhD, in a 2005Psychological Bulletin (Vol. 131, No. 2) article. They propose that social pain piggybacks on nerve pathways in the brain originally laid out for physical pain. The two now share many of the same pathways, resulting in similar responses to the two seemingly disparate phenomena, they say. It makes sense, says Leary, a Duke University professor of psychology, because social rejection and pain serve the same purpose—alerting an organism to a potentially life-threatening risk.

It may also support a counterintuitive theory proposed by Baumeister and his colleagues: that social rejection leads initially to emotional numbness. They have conducted studies in which they tell participants that based on a psychological evaluation they will end up alone later in life. They’ve found that the participants’ behaviors are affected by the news, but their moods aren’t. Baumeister compares this emotional numbing with the analgesic effect that can happen after an injury. We don’t feel pain until we’ve gotten to safety. This same pathway, he argues, may cause emotional numbness after rejection to allow the brain to begin to cope with the pain before it sets in. In fact, in a series of studies, Baumeister and colleagues find that after rejection, not only are people emotionally numb, but their threshold for physical pain increases.

Williams agrees that emotional numbness can happen. In qualitative interviews he conducted with victims of long-term ostracism, many people described their trouble engaging emotionally. However, he says, it’s not clear yet when or under what conditions people feel numbness versus pain.

Rejection’s link to aggression

Regardless, it’s clear from the research that ostracism and rejection have very real consequences. Williams’s student Lisa Zadro, PhD, now at the University of Sydney in Australia, interviewed 50 people who were either ostracized or perpetrators of ostracism. Those who’d been ostracized reported depression, eating disorders, promiscuity disorders and even attempted suicide. Almost all said that they would have preferred physical abuse to ostracism.

S O U R C E

In fact, long-term rejection can have disastrous consequences in the form of anger and aggression. Leary examined cases of school shootings and found that as many as 80 percent of shooters suffered from prolonged peer rejection. These are, of course, only correlations, but many lab studies support the idea that rejection can lead to aggression.

“There seems to be a failure of self-regulation in people who feel rejected,” says Baumeister. “And this allows a shift toward anti-social and aggressive behavior.”

But aggression is only one reaction people can have, says Williams. He and others find that people may also become more socially attentive in an attempt to win approval. Aggression, he argues, is more likely to occur when people have lost a sense of control. They use aggression to reassert themselves—a motivation that becomes more salient than any desire to be liked.

If you use timeouts, any chance you see the correlation here with either the aggressive response, or the opposing passive response? Do I need to draw to connect the dots or can you?

… on his first day, I witnessed the teacher giving a 4 yo boy a time-out for grabbing a toy from another child. They made him go and sit by himself on a chair away from the other kids and told him to “think about what he had done”. Then they eventually led him back to the group, and said, “next time you want a toy, you will use your…” and he said right on queu, “…words”. So obviously this is not the first time it has happened. I was just shocked. I was told in my tour they didn’t use time-outs. Apparently they do. They didn’t speak meanly, they were calm, but everyone was staring and I felt bad for him. I felt he was humiliated a little, ostracized, singled out.

S O U R C E Go read the rest of this.  The article is a bit choppy, but insightful.

Research suggests that ostracism is an effective form of controlling contranormative behaviors, punishing deviance, and increasing in-group cohesion (Alexander 1986; Barner-Barry, 1986; Basso, 1972; Boehm, 1986; Mahdi, 1986). For example ostracism is still one of the more common methods used to discipline young children, by parents and teachers alike. The issue of enforcing time outs, in schools and special education programs alike, has been discussed at length by social psychologists. The common denominator of most forms of time-out is the reduction of social attention. But this can be carried out in a number of ways, from physically relocating the child to a time-out room, to systematically ignoring the child who remains the same social environment (Brooks, Perry, & Hingerty, 1992; Heron, 1987). It has yet to be determined as to whether time-outs are a beneficial form of discipline.

S O U R C E


Note #2 – the ancient Greece part – I added a bit of something to the definition.

os·tra·cism
–noun

1.

exclusion, by general consent, from social acceptance,privileges,friendship, etc.

2.

(in ancient Greece, and in most contemporary homes and schools where children spend their time, across the United States and other countries) temporary banishment of a citizen,decided upon bypopular vote.

Ending the Silence in Your Relationship

The use of withdrawal and refusal is a coping mechanism and learned behavior by someone who was not permitted to experience his or her feelings in safety, likely beginning in childhood. It is a damage response. It is also what these emotionally crippled people employ as a defensive, damage control device.

The person who uses this control technique does so often out of a feeling of hopelessness; they feel they have no other recourse. And many do not as they simply lack the emotional skills necessary to use two-way, emotionally open communication. They are terrified of being open because that is where they’re vulnerable. Chances are, as kids, the parental environment was one of emotional instability, covert retaliation, and continued manipulation and diminishing (which causes a hypersensitivity to it in the future).

The resulting adult will avoid these abuses, even if only perceived, using the only method of control they were able to generate as children: Silence and withdrawal (read internalizing). In this state, the emotional abuser can’t keep getting to them and the tables are turned. The trouble is, this behavior becomes a conditioned response that outlives its usefulness and is continued into the adult’s future relationships, where he or she then perpetrates the damdge instead of being the victim of it. And in all honesty, they self damage, but will rarely become aware of it.

Understand me clearly, the person who believes themself to be whole and fully functional but then employs this control technique is not whole, they are damaged. Internal scars and survival techniques are at play, deep beneath the surface. These people often live with partners who rountinely feel as though they must be crazy, because along with the harm done to the receiving end of the silent treatment is often a distortion of reality by the one who has withdrawn. The act of withdrawal is often accompanied by a very covert shift of blame. This can occur in situations where there was not even reasonable cause for any blame to exist in the eyes of the partner who doesn’t employ the technique. There is a cycle going here.

If you rountinely find yourself using the withdrawal and internalization method, you know that all the stuff you shovel down inside just stays there, piling up. Just like it did as a child. The difference now is that you could be on a level playing field emotionally with those you love and/or live with. You could choose to seek help in gaining healthy coping mechanisms and helpful methods of interaction at such intimate and vulnerable states as are created in committed relationships. You could choose to save yourself future hurt, spare your partner the anguish you cause them, and prevent any future generation you create from the damage. You can choose to stop the cycle of pain and harm, for all involved, including you. But chances are without that pain, conflict, it whatever causes the weight of your burden to remain, you would be lost. It would be foreign and therefore not safe for you to experience these sort of interactions with freedom to feel, security to explore, and trust that your partner doesn’t want to harm you. Fear of being hurt and harmed drives your reluctance, and for good reason, your fear is a learned response.

But you can change your responses. You can change perceptions and understanding. There is another option. An entirely other world that you could exist in that is safe and makes conflict useful. Where love and compassion are the ulterior motives. Trouble is that as long as you keep yourself securely in your hole, back against the wall, where you think you are safe, there is a huge likelihood you’ll never realize the love and compassion staring you in the face.

And the reason they will never see it is because they are indeed damaged souls. Deeply hurt during a time when they could not prevent it (childhood, naive first relationship, illness, etc). These people can change, but need help from an outside source that can teach them and help them develop the the tools they lack.

In the mean time, it you suffer the effects of another imposing their rejection, withdrawal, and/or isolation the best thing you can do is turn to education. Inform yourself of the patterns, the cycles, the experience of life through their eyes. If you can part ways, do so. If you are not in a position to separate and sever your relationship, find an educated source to talk to and locate your unending supply of inner strength. Most importantly, define your boundaries and set them at the place just in front of allowing yourself to become a victim.

If there are any on here that are struggling with this topic and would like to talk to someone via email, I invite you to contact me directly, or another unbiased, uninvolved person.  Don’t struggle alone, and in isolation. Reach out and find help, find someone with the necessary education and experience to talk with, so that you can rise out of the hurt and difficulty that surrounds you.