Yesterday I was reading the paper, actually, I browse through it and read stories with headlines that catch my eye. (My journalism teachers said having catchy headlines above the fold were important and apparently they were right, at least for this reader.)
On Monday there was a syndicated column by a psychologist whom I respect and admire. Yesterday I discovered he would probably give me an "... Awfully Ludicrous Parenting Honor". Ouch. The only reason it's "probably" is because I haven't garnered media attention, which he says is a requirement as qualification for the honor.
What did I do? I pay my children for good behavior, specifically I have been known to pay them a dollar for behaving well in church.. This expert says that paying them for expected behavior "makes a mockery of teaching children to do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do."
Whoops. Well, I guess he has a point. I do tell my children they should help pick up around the house regardless of whose mess it is because "it's the right thing to do" and "you're a member of the family."
I'm not mocking being good for goodness' sake. I embrace it and do it myself. We emphasize the common good and helping others. We try to teach the kids about respect for self and others and just being an all-around good person.
Sometimes though, when in a pinch, a little extra muscle in the form of very germ-ridden, specially imprinted paper helps. Call it "spin" but I consider the extra incentive positive reinforcement for behaving properly and it works better than, "If you don't behave, you're losing all your electronics for the day, week, month, your lifetime."
Just like everything, the experts may not have all the answers for every particular situation. The experts don't always agree, which just goes to show that there is more than one way to raise up a child. (The column I read yesterday was actually written in response to a column he had read by another parenting columnist about the values (pun intended) of paying for good behavior.)
Our kids aren't all cut from the same cookie cutter and neither are our families. While some things may be universal, temperaments and family dynamics are vastly different. I see it even within my own family. One child will feel the impact of losing a particular privilege far differently than another. When I try to make "the punishment fit the crime" I also take into account the motivation and motivators of the beastie in question, fair and equal treatment does not always equal identical treatment.
Because the star cookies and the tree cookies..I don't usually frost them the same either.
Prayers for wisdom through daily adventures, whether addressing the behavior of the kiddies or baking your cookies, one size doesn't fit all. Thankfully, God's love does.