Saturday, January 13, 2007

Beware of Super Nanny's NAUGHTY STEP ~ it's a trap!

Saturday Cuppa: Chamomile tea

The subject of discipline always comes up in books, magazines and conversations on parenting. Discipline goes way beyond ‘to hit or not to hit’, the naughty step (cringe), time out, detention and so on.

The best discipline does not come from external forces (aka parents and teachers), but from within. It is our own example of applying internal discipline which is the best guide for our children, and has life long benefits for them.

This is where, as naturally nurturing parents, we may have the edge over parents who do as ‘everyone else’ does, or follow the dreaded Super Nanny prescription.

Although I’ve published a couple of articles in The Mother magazine on the very radical libertarian approach to parenting, it is not something I, myself, practise.

I LOVE the idea of kids having complete freedom in every area of their life ~ it appeals to me enormously. No doubt it is the rebel within that it appeals to! Our whole universe is based on laws. So even if, as adults, we opt out of cultural, societal and taxation laws, we can’t escape the laws of the universe. As the physical face of God (or the Universe), parents exist to provide structure, boundaries, guidelines. In many ways, we act as the river bank to the river, allowing our children to flow forth with something to contain and channel their life force until they reach the mouth of the sea.

When we learn to work with, rather than against, any rules/laws/structures we set our self for the purposes of growth and improvement, we actually find freedom rather than restraint, and that is so liberating. It’s a mental mindset which is worth developing. Don’t fight the ‘walls’ around you and feel trapped by a square, use them to protect and nurture yourself.

My take on discipline has evolved over 11 years of parenting.

I encourage my children to develop inner discipline knowing that it is far greater than any structure I personally can give them.

As parents, when we feel the ‘need’ to discipline, we can take this as a cue to discipline ourselves, be it ‘holding our tongue’ or our hand/belt/wooden spoon (pick weapon of choice).

Inner discipline, the only true and ever lasting discipline, is like a tree.

When we give ourselves structures, boundaries and systems, we are, in essence, putting down roots. Although unseen to others, we make our soul-self strong, secure…

Reaching down into an unknown power within, our foundation provides nutrients for the trunk, branches and leaves. The ‘visible’ part of ourselves reaches out, forwards, upwards ~ yet always towards the Light. We grow, we provide shelter, sanctuary and beauty.

We can’t do this adequately without a strong root structure.

Sometimes we’ll find ourselves in life, through our early nurturing, or lack thereof, or life circumstances, where we’re not provided with the optimum medium for putting down roots. The ground may be sandy, or rocky, near a cliff’s edge; boggy, parched. We can’t control that, but we can control how we adapt; how we place our roots.

Discipline can be practised in all areas of our life, and indeed, ideally, would be, for excellent growth. All our bodies ~ physical, emotional, mental and spiritual ~ need nurturing through discipline. Constantly, regularly and with awareness. That’s the key. That is what helps our ‘whole’ tree grow. If we don’t grow with strength and maturity, what sort of shelter do we provide for our little saplings?

I’m not game enough to watch Channel Four’s Super Nanny. I know I’d cry my heart out at the humiliation, shame and guilt bucketed on those little kids whose only crime was to choose unconscious parents in an unconscious society!

It’s not the kids who need disciplining! They don’t need a Naughty Step. Super Nanny is typical of our society’s need for a quick fix…a sanitary band aid to cultural problems. Where will Super Nanny be in 20 years when these kids need to heal through issues of guilt and low self esteem because they were taught on national television that they WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH?

How do your kids see YOU practise inner self discipline?

How do you eat? Do you gulp food and drinks down while on the run? Or do you sit, without the tv on, eating calmly, chewing each mouthful fully? Do you drink with your meals, or allow your body the dignity and intelligence of using its own digestive juices?

Is your daily aerobic and non aerobic exercise something you watch others do on tv? Or is it as much a mental and spiritual discipline, as it is physical?

How do you relax? (watching tv doesn’t count!) Play? Laugh?

Is meditation, hypnosis or prayer part of your spiritual nourishment?

Is work something you loathe or love?

Do you carry grudges only burning yourself rather than the one it is aimed at, or have you developed the discipline to ‘let go’ and move on?

In marriage, are you a nagger or a nourisher? If you nag constantly, hoping you’ll achieve something or change your partner, develop the inner discipline of biting your tongue and looking in the mirror before criticising the love of your life. Expect miracles!

Our kids press buttons. That’s their job. They didn’t come to us because we ‘wanted kids’. They came to us on a special mission to HEAL us. Sorry to take away the mystique, folks!

Discipline is not hitting the kids, but using our brains and will power to NOT raise our hand/swear/scream. Saying “I can’t help it” as an excuse to inflict physical or emotional/mental harm on a child, is exactly where we begin our own self discipline. It is about bringing awareness and NOT repeating our parents’ parenting. The buck stops with us.

Instead of thinking we have to ‘teach the kids a lesson’, we need to let them teach us one or two. And the lesson, more often than not, is one of NOT reacting with physical discipline ~ unless it is perhaps to offer a hug and say, “I understand.”

As my kids get older, I find myself deferring more and more to my Higher Self ~ rather than my ego ~ for help in resolving conflicts. Through disciplining my mind, body and soul through various practises, I realise I really don’t know best.

I count among my friends no less than three life coaches. It makes me laugh because I often wonder why someone would pay another human being to help them achieve goals when ALL the tools are within. With absolutely NO disrespect to my friends’ life work, I wonder if the huge uptake of life coaching services is a reflection on the way we’ve been disciplined as kids? We look outside of ourselves for feedback, kicks up the bum, pats on the back. We seem incapable of doing this for ourselves. I am miffed at this, oftentimes amused, but mostly stunned.

Just do it, has always been my motto. Maybe it’s a personality thing?

In my own life I practise self discipline by conscious eating and drinking (most of the time!); regular juice/water fasts; exercise (rebounding, walking, Pilates); meditation/relaxation/visualisation/hypnosis/forgiveness (when I feel ready!); learning piano, and latterly, counting to ten before I respond to something that pees me off.

There are many ways in which I encourage my girls to develop inner discipline. At this point they still need some guidance, but I know that in time it will truly come from within, rather than from me, as mother. Learning an instrument is a great way for children to experience how we can persevere through uncertainty, and oftentimes difficulty and frustration, to see joy and success.

I hope that my children, at whatever level, see my life as a simple example of how when we stretch through challenges we grow and also achieve a sense of satisfaction.

tomorrow's Observer Woman magazine feature

I mentioned a couple of months back about popping down to London with my girls for a photo shoot. Tomorrow, The Observer newspaper is running a feature in Observer Woman magazine called Female Tribes of Britain. My friends Nikki, Shazzie, and Melissa from the Green Parent magazine went along to represent the Earth Mother tribe…

I won’t pretend that I’m not disappointed, for it isn’t the in-depth interview we were promised, which would debunk the myths associated with our ‘tribe’. No, no, no! Of course not… I’m so bloody naive. Still! I expected MORE from The Observer. After all, it’s not the Daily Mail or The Mirror. Hmmm…

It is going to be more pictorial with a few completely out of context ‘quotes’ and some silly questions/answers! But there you go, that’s the world of the media ~ a sector of society dangerously low in integrity!


Anonymous said...

Hello all.. My 15-month-old is 'disciplined' by attachment, so that I am always there to redirect her energies as needed (away from sharp objects, electricity, water etc). The other night, we were in bed playing with her baby doll. I was making the doll say 'Mama' to Olivia, when she gently took the doll from me, lifted her shirt and put the doll to her 'breast'. It was so sweet and life-affirming, and it was a great encouragement to me that all the time spent nurturing her is 'discipline'. I agree with V, that (paraphrasing) the ultimate goal of discipline is to instill self-discipline. Blessings to all from
Alison and Olivia

The Herbwyfe's Apothecary said...

Hi Veronika,
Love your journal, particulalry this recent post on descipline. I have 2 beautiful homebirthed boys,the eldest of which is 4 and naturally exuberant about life and just wants to live it at it's fullest. I am so sick and tired of people (particualrly childless people) who see this behaviour and 1. assume there is somethiong wromg about it, and 2. start sprouting the Super Nanny and what she would do.
So, yeah your post really resonated with me. I strongly believe that children are a mirror of ourselves. Guiding them into having their own self-discipline really starts by guiding oursleves. Thanks for the inspiration.
Peace xo