I Failed the Discipline Quiz!

It is no secret that the discipline methods we choose are greatly influenced by how we were disciplined. Either what our parents did to discipline us is all we know so that is what we do or how we got punished was so traumatic that we vowed never to do that to our children. Of course, we might sprinkle in some advice from other moms, discipline trends from parenting magazines, and (of course) the law, but by far, our childhood determines how we discipline our children.

Like most African Americans, I was raised by parents who had no problem threatening to or actually putting hands, belts, shoes, and the occasional skillet on me and my siblings in the name of discipline. I even remember getting my head popped by plastic combs for squirming too much while my mom tried to do my hair. As I write this I can imagine a few readers with no point of reference cringing and thinking “ABUSE!” However, I can also imagine many shaking their head in familiarity, professing “Yep, yep, mmhmm!” Still, I turned out okay. Some might even say I turned out great.

When it came to determining discipline of my child, I started just like my mom started with me. She got a pop on her hand or a some swats to her butt if she was really turning out. Of course I mastered the “fear of God” stare I saw from my mom my entire life. But one day something changed for me. My daughter has always been an independent thinker. Good, bad, or indifferent; once her mind was fixed you could not tell her anything (not sure where she got that from). With that, she had this frustrating habit of walking away whenever she wanted to go do or see whatever she wanted. That drove me bonkers.

One day, she was about four and she walked away from me in the grocery store. I told her over and over again not to walk away from me. She was going to remember that day. I spanked her right in the aisle of the grocery store. In true Black mother fashion, I spoke to her in rhythm with every swipe. “Didn’t-I-tell-you-not-to-walk-away-from-me?” When I felt I got my point across, I looked up and standing at the end of the aisle, looking mortified, was an older white woman. Her judging stare bothered me. Not because I cared what she thought, but because suddenly I felt like maybe there was another way. After all, the past spankings did not stop her from walking away. Spanking her was not effective discipline so I stopped. I even employed a practice of making her pop herself. Now that she is older and an avid reader, sending her to her room is not an effective punishment. She will just be cool with having some quiet time to read.

This discipline thing is not so cut and dry. There is no manual and every child is different so what will work differs. I think the only thing that can be agreed upon, regardless of race, culture, or economic background, is that children must be disciplined. They cannot be left to run wild. I believe discipline is as much an expression of love for our children as an affirming hug. So for this quiz to tell me just about everything I did, do, or would do is wrong, kind of pissed me off. But that is just me. Take the quiz for yourself and share your thoughts.

Parenting Quiz: Discipline Dos and Don’ts

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