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The shift away from traditional parenting - Part I

Traditional discipline: effective or antiquated advice?

Parenting is seeing a revitalization in America. Groundbreaking research in brain science has revealed new ways of relating to our children and provided insight into the most common behavioral issues.

However, as evidenced by the recent episode of ABC's Primetime: When Children of Abuse Become Parents the media is not averse to championing the use praise and rewards as the latest in a foul-proof recipe for parenting success

If only it were that easy!

I’d like to suspend disbelief for a moment and challenge the theory that behavior modification needs to be entangled with the dispensing of parenting advice. Consciousness is shifting and the needs of parents are changing. It is time to erase outdated belief systems begin to focus on transforming the old parenting paradigm.

The old parenting paradigm can be described as a belief system that focuses on a child's behavior and emphasizes the value of discipline and control as the predominate means of child-rearing. Though this approach is often to the detriment of the child's emotional well-being, it is still well-entrenched in the mind of today's parent.

The old parenting paradigm is a cumulative belief system based on the knowledge and experiences of generations past. It does not represent any one school of thought exclusively but it is the way many of us were parented. If you endured criticism or praise with words like -

"Because I said so." "What a well-behaved child." "Why can't you be more like...?"
"If your grades go up, you can have..." "Let's go or I'm leaving you here..."
"You make me so made..." "You are such a [fill-in-the-blank-expletive]!"

- then you were parented under a traditional, dominant paradigm.

The dominant style of parenting often includes the use of [corporal punishment] spanking as discipline and punishment/praise/reward systems, though the model itself refers more to an antiquated philosophical understanding of children than to the specific parenting techniques themselves.

Harsh criticism, evaluative statements and expectations of obedience no longer support families and children logically or emotionally. Power over others, the common denominator underlying the ideas represented by the old parenting paradigm, undermines such fundamental values as patience, empathy, understanding, love, cooperation and respect while demanding that children demonstrate those same values in return.

How can children be expected to demonstrate values that aren't modeled for them?

Find out in Part II of "The shift away from traditional parenting."

Lori Petro is a Mom, Children's Advocate and Speaker. She is passionate about transforming our world through conscious parenting compassionate communication, and peaceful conflict resolution.

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Gottman Institute