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My dad was clean and sober, stern but loving, the very model of a Baptist preacher. The distinction seemed so obvious and significant when I was young, but as an adult I find it impossible to explain.

He never raised a hand to my mother, and he certainly, it seemed obvious to me, did not beat his kids. Parent-child violence in one context was clearly abuse, while parent-child violence in another context was clearly discipline. A Baptist preacher and a preacher’s wife, they grounded their parenting in Biblical principles such as Proverbs , “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” In theory, this teaching meant that corporal punishment was a duty undertaken in solemnity, an unpleasant task that was nonetheless necessary for the sake of guiding children to be well-rounded adults, able to act responsibly and functionally in the adult world, and not slaves to wanton impulses or selfish indulgence. It was an ordeal of indeterminate length, often with my two brothers and me shut up in a room, my father spanking the three of us in turn, ranting and raving between rounds of furious swats. These spankings were not “discipline.” They were not short, sharp reminders of what we had done wrong. They were my father indulging his anger and frustration to their fullest and at his children’s expense.

When Bratty Behavior Is a Problem Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, Psy.

By Deborah Godfrey When two people get married and decide to have children, they rarely talk about the specifics of how they plan to raise these children.

The strict parent gets angry when the lenient parent allows too much leeway.

The lenient parent gets upset when the strict parent is too restrictive.

Most people have a “de facto” attitude that says, “My parents raised me x, y or z way and I turned out just fine and I’ll raise my kids that same way”.

While the wonderful person they married has the same idea and attitude, but that parent was raised with a, b and c parenting.

What could be learned from people who deal with the day-to-day reality of mental illness?

So the strict parent gets stricter and the lenient parents gets more permissive until the parents are battling all the time over how to discipline.

The children have a field day of misbehavior in this dynamic, learning to play one parent against the other and running amuck.

So the real problems begin when these two parents have a two-year old and their parenting styles begin to clash.

When spouses disagree about parenting issues, what usually happens is that one parent tends to be more strict and the other parent tends to be more lenient.


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