Friday, February 10, 2012

Hey Society: Give Kids a Break!

Over the past few days, one dad's video has gone viral. Tommy Jordan shot nine bullets into his 15-year-old daughter, Hannah's laptop after she posted a "disrespectful" status about him on her Facebook wall. I have plenty of problems with this his "Facebook parenting," but since The Connected Mom is intended to be a positive, supportive environment, so I am going to restrain myself from ranting. (That's not to say I won't do it on my personal blog, wink-wink). If you have followed the comment threads on this video, you will be relieved to know that I'm not going to discuss who is more in the wrong or dissect the Jordans' family dynamic. Instead, I want to challenge a view that was frequently expressed in the comments: that today's kids are out of control and need more of this sort of harsh "discipline" to keep them in line.

Even if kids are more disrespectful now than those in the past, one must ask where they have learned this behavior. They didn't raise themselves. Nor were the majority of them raised by permissive parents. Some estimates indicate that as of 2008, as many as 85% of adolescents had been physically punished, and more than half of those had been hit with an object like a belt. No, Mr. Jordan does not use physical punishment in this video, but almost every negative comment about teens calls for spanking. The truth is, most kids are physically punished. If they are as bad as their critics would have us believe, then it follows that physical punishment isn't the solution.In fact, corporal punishment has been linked to the antisocial behaviors, which might include impulsiveness, lying, aggressiveness, and even breaking rules. In other words, physical discipline just might cause the very problems parents are trying to prevent.

So, if physical discipline is out, what is there? Here's a concept: treat your kids like people! If and adult friend posted something negative about you on the Internet, would you pop her laptop full of lead? Most likely not. You might get angry, but instead of using violence, you would tell her how you feel. You might also examine yourself to see if there are any truth to her words. If there were, you might even change accordingly. If you would do that for your friend, then doesn't your own child deserve the same courtesy? Instead of demanding respect, let's earn it by treating our kids respectfully. The results might just astound us!


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