Parents who demand obedience as a sign of respect overlook the fact that many children obey out of fear of harsh punishment, not respect. When parents hit their children when they are displeased, they teach the children to hit others when they are displeased. If we are ever to see the end of the senseless violence on the streets in Baltimore, parents need to demonstrate a new definition of respect, one that prohibits hitting and all the other humiliating acts they call discipline: screaming, name-calling, abandonment, neglect and abuse.
In nearly 60 years in parent-education, I have found that parents are not only capable but are eager and willing to turn from punitive discipline to compassionate caregiving where children learn to cooperate and respect themselves and others.
Molly Brown Koch
The writer is director of Keep the Connection workshops for parents and other caregivers.
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