Monday, September 1, 2008

Raising a Decent Person

I have often heard from various anecdotes how my grandparents used to discipline their kids. From what I hear, my paternal grandfather was the strict disciplinarian who wouldn't hesitate to spank his kids for perceived wrongdoing and my grandmother was the one they run to for comfort. I've heard that my maternal grandmother was not very strict. My maternal grandfather was like an OFW in those days, he was in Iloilo working on his business while his family was in Hong Kong, so I really do not think he was around that much to do the disciplining. This was around the 1940's - 1960's.

My parents were quite strict, but my dad has always said that he was trying to be a little more understanding. They do spank us, my dad with a belt and my mom with a piece of rattan stick, but we usually know why we were spanked. They were not unreasonable and looking back, we already knew beforehand that punishment was forthcoming but we still chose to test their limits. Spanking was something that happens when you do not listen to your parents or to your teachers. Yes, spanking was the form of punishment done during those days, both in the school and out of it, but it was not the only one. We have experienced being locked in our rooms, standing in the corner, etc. This was around the Martial Law era, the 1970s and 1980s.

Now that I'm a mother myself, one of the things I know I would have to instill is discipline. We now live in a world that is much more permissive for kids. I do not really like corporal punishment, because I've been the recipient of such. Although I understand my parents and love them with all my heart (and I also know that they must have been heartbroken to have to dole out punishment), I really do not want my kids to grow up spoiled. I've seen a lot of kids who are really brats, and I've always wondered how they parents allow them to turn that way! None of my parents, uncles or aunts are spoiled brats. None of my siblings are spoiled brats. I think there are more spoiled brats this generation and I really wonder why.

While thinking about this topic, I came across the "Spoiled Brat Screening Quiz". You might want to try it out by clicking on the link.

I think that discipline should start from an early age. I don't think we really consciously think about what age...we just try to enforce our rules as early as possible. What are we doing or trying to do (we're not always successful) with our three year old?

  • My husband and I am trying to always be in sync. If daddy says "no", mommy should stand by his decision and vice versa.
  • "No" means "no", "no way", "there's absolutely no compromise". It does not mean "maybe", "later", or "when I'm not looking".
  • Discipline by example. By BEING a decent, law-abiding citizen. I mean, how can you teach your kid not to throw garbage everywhere when he sees you doing it?
  • He will have everything he needs (as we perceive it) but he won't get everything he wants. Such is life.
  • When he does something especially good, he gets praises, smiles, a hug and a kiss. Toys as rewards? Maybe, but not always.
  • We try to explain why he can't do some things, why he can't have some things. Even at his young age, he can already understand some concepts.
  • Corporal punishment is a last resort. I do not want him to have bad relationships with us that he would try to keep secrets from us. I'd rather that we have a good enough relationship that we'll be the first one he goes to when he has problems. BUT a smack for particularly bad behavior (but with prior warnings already, on the palm or on the buttocks, not too hard) MAY sometimes be needed for particularly bad behavior. But it's a last resort. And a talk afterwards on why he got spanked.
I guess every parent wants his/her child to grow up to be a decent person. I am certainly one in hoping that my child is one. I have to make sure that he understands that this world doesn't revolve around what he wants, but what is right.
This is my entry to the 7th Edition of the Pinoy Parenting Blog Carnival, which I'm hosting in my other blog, The Working Mom.