The punitive mindset

Although I have spent plenty of time trying to explain it, I still find that many of my friends (the non-GBD kind) don’t see how coming from a punitive mindset changes everything about their discipline, even if the actions that they take are very similar to those of us who practice grace-based discipline.

Last night I finished Crystal Lutton’s Biblical Parenting, and I felt that she concluded with a great discussion of this point. Here she is using the example of a teenager who is about to get her license.

A healthy boundary for a parent to set with regards to their vehicle is that no one without insurance may drive their car. Tell your daughter in advance, perhaps at a famliy meeting, what will happen if she doesn’t keep up the insurance payments. I suggest that she not be allowed to drive your car without insurance. If she misses a payment, take her license and keys. When she catches up on the premiums, return them. This is not punitive. It is logic an adolescent can follow, and it prevents the natural consequence of being in an accident without insurance or a ticket for the same, and your daughter knows the consequences beforehand. This same action would be punitive if done reactively. If you’ve never discussed what will happen if she doesn’t keep up the premiums, it’s punitive to enter her room and demand her keys. Everything within the window needs to be proactive, not reactive.

That makes perfect sense, right? The behavior of the parents can change whether their actions are punitive or not. Its not just what you do… its how you do it.

In the above quote, Crystal also references her “window” which I thought was a great visual for showing how we are to react to our children in a way that is neither permissive nor punitive. I wish she had it online (she may, but I can’t find it), because I’d love to discuss it, but it’d be hard without the pictures.

Now that I’m done with the book, let me say that I truly enjoyed it. I would love it if our small group could study it. My only comment/concern is that I honestly don’t know that many of the men of the group could handle it in Chapter 2 when Crystal says (in speaking of how gender roles and the role of community has changed)

Because of this ever-increasing reliance on a husband to help in parenting the baby and young child, men’s ideas on how to parent children of this age have become more pronounced and are often seen as the “expert” advice. However, it is the woman who has been designed and called by God to parent these young people and, while the help of a husband/father is vital in our culture today, the man would be wise to follow his wife’s lead during these early years.

I totally, absolutely, completely see where she’s coming from, but I know that the military men in our group would piss their pants when they read that. If it was later in the book, I think that we could have a great discussion, but I think that the fact that it is so close to the front means that they wouldn’t even go on. I am sure that was not her intention at all, and they’d see that if they kept reading, but I don’t think they’d ever touch the book again

I’m hoping that our current group book Families Where Grace Is In Place will be enough of a gateway that we could later do Crystal’s book D

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