This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is No Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph. D, authors of the book The Whole Brain Child. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.
I am not a Brady Bunch fan. The fact is I didn’t watch the reruns growing up. However, I did happen to catch one particular rerun with my husband during undergrad. I don’t know that all of the shows were so telling, but this particular episode stuck with me. Bobby, who is the youngest Brady son, is given the ultimate job at school: safety monitor. He can write students up for not following the rules and therefore not being safe. Oh, the power! It isn’t long before he has enacted his institutionally given powers at home, turning in reports on his siblings to their parents. One sibling comes home after curfew. Another has a different sibling do her chores. You get the idea. Each person has a reason for breaking the rules, but it doesn’t matter. They broke the rules. As far as Bobby is concerned, this blatant disregard for rules is black and white. That is, until he is faced with breaking the rules to go into an old house, while getting his good suit dirty, in order to save a cat. Suddenly he is faced with making a decision.
The story unfolds from there. He makes the decision to save the cat. A mishap with a large amount of laundry detergent results in him shrinking his suit, flooding the house with suds, and his parents finding out. The lesson is learned, however. Life isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Each situation is unique. Just as we want our children to learn to think for themselves, assessing situations and using that information to come up with the best solutions, so to do we need to do that as parents. We can’t rely on arbitrary rules and pre-determined punishments in order for our children to learn. Life doesn’t work that way. If the goal of our parenting is to raise empathetic, conscientious critical thinking, we have to raise them that way.