Monday, November 1, 2010

Time Out or Tough Love?

I have spent most of my career as a Psychiatric nurse studying a menagerie of diagnoses, disorders and addictions. I used to believe in these labels hung on individuals for justifying their behavior or poor choices. Recently however, I’m being challenged in these labels. I believe our culture is witnessing a generation of children growing to believe that their behavior can always be justified in one way or another. This country has lost the ability to raise our children with accountability, and in my opinion it started with the “time out” phenomena. Don’t get me wrong, plopping my kid into a chair to sit and think about their actions has worked on occasion, especially when they were at a young age. The problem is the complacency I see with parents as that child grows older, from the tween to teen years, something is missing.

Ok, here it goes. It’s the statement that proves I’ve become my mother: when I was growing up, you did what you were told or there would be serious consequences. I remember when the tough love theory worked on our youth. I should know, I grew up when that concept came about, along with President Regan, say no to drugs, and mothers against drunk driving. Just think about these concepts for a minute. They're still thriving, and have changed the way our culture thinks and feels about drugs or drinking & driving. Laws have even been implemented from these concepts, and thousands of lives have been saved due to their cause.

So where did the tough love go?

Let’s face it parents, life is tough. It’s only going to get tougher for our children.

I feel confident that when my kids turn 16 and gets their first job, their boss isn’t going to throw therapeutic comments at them when they’re not doing what’s expected. I can’t really hear the manager saying, “It appears your having a hard time right now keeping up, would you like to tell me what might be going on?”

I’m about all tapped out on therapeutic communication, and listening & reading from the “professionals”, the best methods for raising our children.

Now days if a child is defiant, he gets diagnoses of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. So wait, there’s a diagnoses for being defiant? Hell, I got the back of my mother’s hand if I was defiant! I never saw it as abuse. I knew I deserved it!

Our children have the right these days to file charges against their parents if a finger is laid on them. We have therapists telling parents to let our kids have a certain amount of control in their lives, but it has resulted in parents losing control of order in the home.

When are parents going to trust their abilities on raising their children based on tried & true values of the past? Respect, manners, honor, pride …

Tough love

It just may be the best therapy for our children!

Have an intimate day!


  1. Great topic. Sorry I don't have the answers. Since we are very close and you know me all too well, I'm not sure if I am the one to ask. First let me say, you are an awesome parent. You have so much to handle with 4 children not to mention the age range. I would go insane with more than just my one. (This is proven by teaching the 5th grade boys in our kids ministry.)

    For those reading that do not know, I have an 8 yr old daughter, Samantha. As most parents would say, she isn't a bad kid. I'd have to say that is true. Comparing her to me, she is good. For the toddler years, the "naughty stool" (Super Nanny terminology for time out) worked wonders. She did not want to go to the isolated area in which the "stool" resided. Sitting there for the minutes equivalent to her age proved longer than forever. Now, at age 8, this isn't really a viable option.

    As you reflected, I too remember THE BELT! I don't really agree that I deserved it but, it was effective....for awhile. Then, it became "get it over with already". My thought is, as with anything, it becomes mundane and pointless. Action-reaction. Do this, get that, move on. I have never had to resort to even a spanking with Samantha. That doesn't mean I shouldn't have.

    My first instinct when something isn't done right or, at all, is to yell. That goes back to our way of being raised. However, I try to suppress that initial reaction and think first. When I have yelled, all I see is my Daughter cringe and sink into a little ball. What good is coming from that? No lesson learned, just fear of the one who loves her. I agree that the boss is not going to sugar coat anything however, with our children, some needs to be sprinkled on.

    For now, I too am struggling with the correct way of discipline. As she gets older it is more difficult. Yelling isn't the answer, it just makes us feel better for the moment to get it out. I try to remember what I teach the kids in ministry, "treat others the way you would want to be treated". "Make the wise choice". Although not easy, it is effective. I've tried talking, asking, taking away allowance, and still have not found the "perfect" solution. I pray to God that He will make me a better parent and guide me to do the right thing. Not letting my temper get the best of me is very difficult and it does come out. I'm working on that. Life happens and all we can do is learn from our mistakes.

    I don't have any answers and I'm not sure if my ramblings have helped anyone. Thank you for posting this Jen (Sorry, just can't see you as Jenny). By just sitting down and typing this response it has made me think more about it. I would recommend journaling your thoughts and feelings at the moment of confrontation. Putting it on paper/computer gets it out without hurting anyone and gives you the opportunity to blow up. Later, you can read what you wrote and then approach the situation with a clear head.

    Thanks again for the post, great thing to think about.


  2. Sorry this reply got so long, I think it is on topic???

    Great reply Ray!

    I am entitled... to live in a nice house, be happy, have a nice car, big TV, food, clothes, pretty much anything that someone else has, and by the way, if I can not or will not earn these things, then the person that has earned these things is going to pay for mine. Shoot, I am entitled to cut you off, drive as fast as I want, cut in front of you in line at the post office. Didn't you know the world revolves around me. I will be selfish, and then I am going to procreate and raise little selfish people just like me. I hate to make it seem so political, but families and society are reflections of each other.

    In contrast, I try to make it my ambition to lead a quiet life, mind my own business and work hard with my hands, so that my daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that I will not be dependent on anybody (1 Thesalonians 4:11,12). I will be honest and have integrity, and then I am going to procreate and raise little honest people with integrity just like me. To do this, my children will REQUIRE consistency, discipline, and prayer (divine intervention). Time-outs will be sufficient consequences for some offenses for some of my children, but not for others. On a much lighter but related note, "Tissue?":

    Thanks Jen!

  3. Hi Jen!

    I totally get your frustration, and I'm not sure there is one right answer.

    I do agree with Warren (good thing since we are raising 3 little people together)that the very best thing we can do for our children is to set an example of what we expect for them to be. WAY easier said than done.

    Several times in the past, when my child has been disrespectful and I have tried to discourage her (sometimes by screaming at her, sending her to her room, spanking, washing her mouth out, or trying to reason with her) she has replied with, "I learned it from you, mom."

    OUCH! What could I have done differently? Punished her more?


  4. I do believe that children need to be taught certain boundaries. They need structure and to know that there are limits to what they can get away with. The occasional spanking can be a tool in this. Most kids can be disciplined in this way and it works.

    At the same time, I've seen that with some kids it doesn't matter if you spank them. They don't want to listen. Or perhaps they want to choose who they want to listen to and they choose the wrong people. I think it's got more to do with their own nature than it has to do with nurture. So physical discipline with children like this doesn't work.

    I definitely agree that people have become much to complacent to blame a child's bad behaviour on some kind of mental disorder. There are kids with certain issues but not all of them, as it would seem from the number of kids who are medicated these days. That's what really alarms me.


  5. I believe the reason so many people turned to "time-out" and not hitting their children was for a number of reasons. For one, there is no doubt that a number of us in our generation and earlier can realistically say that some of it crossed over to downright abusive.

    Being hit with a belt may have been effective in keeping you from doing something again...but it was fear that taught you not to do it again rather than the "real" lesson that comes from teaching. Swinging a belt or a wooden spoon at a child, or hitting them in general, is a quick fix to get your child to do you what you want them to do. But it does not teach them the actual reasons of why they were wrong or what alternative they had to make a better choice.

    Parenting is part protection, part caring for their needs, part teaching, and a whole lot of love. Ray is right when he says he doesn't understand the value in watching his daughter coil in fear because he yelled. It doesn't make him or anyone else a bad parent because we occasionally yell at them...but what makes him a good parent is caring about the effect it has on her.

    There are ways to discipline a child without resorting to the "old ways". I think the real problem so many parents have is that they misinterpret what it means to raise a child without resorting to those measures. They haven't a clue as to how to go about disciplining if they can't spank. Others don't have the patience to keep trying new strategies, which is often needed. Others take the concept as a signal to become overly relaxed and even indifferent at times. And still others get confused as to what is more helpful to their child: having a parent go argue with their coach for them or having the child sit on the bench because that's what they deserve.

    You can't just smack a child's hand because they hit another child. The irony in that is too ridiculous to even have to explain. But even more importantly, it only taught the child not to do it but it did nothing to teach the child why she shouldn't do it.

    It takes patience and teaching and explanation and more patience. It's not easy and unfortunately, there will always be bad parents out there. All you can do is to do your best with your children and teach them right from wrong with every single opportunity that comes along. Missing a slumber party and being taught why is far more effective than being smacked across the face.


  6. Oh Ray,..It is few & far between,...when you really yell. I feel the same when I see my childrens reactions, and question if any of my discipline is effective. I think every parent asks that question. Whether it is time outs or tough love. When I wrote this it was for help, and overall views of how parents are dealing with the changing world,..and their changing children. Iron sharpens iron ;)

  7. Warren & Michelle,..I LOVE hearing/listening to husband/wife opinions on parenting issues, colorful! Warren,..where do you think I got this idea? (Re:Geico commercial)Ok, that & 8 years in a prison dealing with adults not taking any accountability for their actions. Segway to Michelle,...where did most of these "bad seeds" get their behavior? Yep,...the parents. Or lack there of. Thank you both, for providing the same,..but different loving views!

  8. Jai,..this is partly the reason for the post... Let's diagnose this behavior since we haven't the patience to deal with it. A "pill" takes affect so much sooner. I agree also that there are just some personalities that decide on choosing their own path... free will. Unfortunately, how it affects the cycle of life appears to be more & more disturbing as each generation ages. Or, maybe, I'm the one aging so fast that I just can't process the "norm" of what's accepted these days from our youth. Gosh, I sound like a grandparent!

  9. Thanks so much Colleen for your comment! It sheds a bright light on these delemmas allowing parents (like me) to focus on what exactly is our punishment teaching our children? You made a very clear distinction that a "punishment" is worth squat without rationale.....a true balance of love in different forms.....

  10. Jennifer, sometimes I wonder at how so many things are different from when I was a child and that wasn't that long ago! But then I grew up in England and my parents were Indian. So I had a slightly more strict upbringing because of my cultural background. But I still think that was much better than the way kids are brought up these days, with them running wild and undisciplined and medicated. It is shocking and worrying.


  11. Great post, Jen!

    Growing up, when we misbehaved, we had to pick out our own switch from a tree! There were nine of us, and we learned early on, there would be punishment if we were disrespectful. I never thought anything of that. My parents loved us and we knew that. And all nine of us have turned out to be kind, sensitive people.

    I will agree with Jai, though, that not all kids respond to spanking. Our oldest was so stubborn. It did no good at all to spank her. We had to think out of the box. We would spank her favorite baby doll, and it worked like a charm! Our middle child was so sensitive, you could raise your eyebrows at her, and she'd bawl. Time outs worked fine for her.

    Children are all so unique. You just have to respect that, and do what works. They will thank you for that one day. Mine have already. They see what they are up against. They've heard horror stories from peers who were left to run wild.