Differences in Disciplining The Anklebiters

How do you discipline your kid? Time outs? Ground them? Beat that a**? It varies from family to family, generation to generation and can make for some interesting discussions when everyone’s under the same roof.

We were recently watching the television show Parenthood, a series we love because we spend much of it laughing and nodding in agreement with the lessons learned. In a recent episode the grandparents came over to their daughter’s house and were surprised to find that their 6 year old granddaughter decided to be a vegetarian.

The grandfather, Zeek, tries to pressure the little girl to clean her plate for dinner, but it had meat on it and she refused. It’s a food fight we’re all familiar with and on Parenthood it later led to a discussion where the grandparents told their daughter that she is too lenient with her kid. Eventually they agreed to disagree. Hubby and I exchanged a look and smiled. We’d just been there.

After Ethan was born, his big brother was certainly out of sorts with the new baby, visitors and his sleep routine was completely off. It was bad, pretty much the worst I’ve ever seen him. My parents were staying with us at the time and they both talked with me individually about Logan’s behavior.

They talked about the need for Logan to have more boundaries and my dad said I needed to buckle down and control him. I talked with them about how our parenting style is different than theirs, not knocking their choices, but we’re more of a Supernanny meets Dr. Thomas Phelan.

Granted that week because I was dealing with other stuff, Hubby and I weren’t on our normal parenting routine either and Logan took advantage. We’re back on track now, the tantrums are still there, but much less intense and much less frequent.

It all made me think about disciplining through the generations, how it’s changed and will continue to do so. One of my mommyfriends says her parents also think she’s too lenient. It also apparently happened to my mother-in-law. While she says both us and Hubby’s sister were more lenient than she was in raising kids, but she respected it as our choice. She later said her own mother also told her that she was being too lenient with her children, but my MIL insisted that was different because *her* mom didn’t know what she was talking about.

I always smile at that. It kinda seems like a part of life doesn’t it? The previous generation offering input to the next and both sides not necessarily seeing eye-to-eye on all of it, but still with identical goals: loving the newest generation.


5 responses to “Differences in Disciplining The Anklebiters

  1. Adaline behaves really well for the most part and she’s still little, so we haven’t really gotten into discipline so much yet (it’s mostly just “correction”). I don’t think my mom and I will have any problems. We’re a lot alike and if anything, I’ll likely be more strict than she was. I’m one of those irritating rule-followers and an even more irritating rule-maker (there’s only 5 rules?! There should be 10!). Same with my MIL. I can tell that she was much more lenient with her children than my mother was and than what I’ll ever be.

    Yet in many ways I’ll be so different than both of them. They were both terrific homemakers keeping things spotless and spending a lot of time on housework. That’s just not something I do. So my house is messy, but I spend way more one on one time with Adaline and because of that I can let her “get into things” more since I can supervise her. So I take the couch cushions off of the sofa and throw them all over the floor, and I hold Adaline’s hands while we jump up and down on the bed, and I throw laundry all over the floor (at Adaline) right before I fold it. And we have a blast 🙂

    I think the most important think in disciplining is not who’s right or wrong or what method you use…it’s recognizing whether or not said method is working (after a reasonably consistent time period) and the willingness to change if it doesn’t. Many of us are so caught up in our method being “right” or simply not wanting to agree with our parents, we tend to forget that every child is different and sometimes we have to change things up to get the best results.

  2. What a great and honest post! There’s more than one way to be a good parent and it’s always easier for people to criticize when they are not there to see your every day life. I think this situation happens a lot more than people recognize. My mother and I used to butt heads on discipline, but she has come to understand that what I’m doing doesn’t harm my babies and they will grow up to be well adjusted adults. She leaves the discipline to me and enjoys her role as grandparent, the one who spoils them with love and attention.

  3. I know my mom thinks I’m too lenient. Thankfully she never says anything.

  4. I think this is a great post on a great topic. I am a firm believer that there is no RIGHT way of disciplining. Every child responds differently and has different needs, and thus a different method of discipline is needed to respond to that child’s personality. I am not a fan of hitting or spanking and happen to believe that if you hit, your child will hit, and it shows that violence is ok. I was not spanked as a child, and I am a well mannered, successful professional and all around good mother/wife/person. Thus, while I will set boundaries for my kids, they will be relative and mindful of the thigns going on in their lives, and boundaries without hitting or spanking as punishment.
    I think the method which you choose to discipline is a reflection on many things, including your own experiences and how you were raised. It is you and your partner’s choice … even if parents or friends do not agree, they need to respect you and your partner’s decisions (within limits, I’m thinking extreme situation… drug abuse, which obviously is not going on with your 3 year old LOL) They have already done their job in raising you… now it is your turn. And sure, we all make mistakes, but we cannot become better parents unless we do it on our own.
    In the words of my own mother, you don’t want to break your child’s spirit. Sure, boundaries are one thing… and we all have boundaries for our children… but it is crucial to take into consideration when disciplining who the child is, the age that they are and their need at that point to test their limits and grow their independance. Your method of discipline will surely change as your kids do, but it will be when you- the one who kows your child’s needs best-decides it is time for modification.

  5. Total agreement. My theory is parents have just forgotten what they did and did not do. Jason’s mom saw a picture of him on his third birthday standing on a chair to blow out his candles. She said, “Hmmmm, I guess we were more relaxed about what we let them do than I remember.”

    Also, constantly controlling your child is a great way to send them into teenage rebellion. I firmly believe that. Especially with naturally strong-willed children like Logan and Feynman. Scarlett’s nature is different, but Feynman requires constant “active and mindful parenting.” Anyway, my dad says he had me “trained like a dog” when I was little. He’d go into a store and say, “Sit. Stay.” I can promise this did not result in a teenager who was trained like a dog. As soon as I had control over my world, I exercised it in every way possible. SO, in short, I think you are the only one that knows what is best for your child. Not even your parents can know your kid like you do.

    I think our generation is more careful about thinking of the consequences of our actions as parents, and it’s a good thing, too, because our children are going to be part of a world with more choices (good and bad) than ever before.

    Great post, Mel!

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