I was talking to someone today who teaches gymnastics to kids and he mentioned this book
. He said his parents were religious adherents to that style of parenting and he tries to do the same with kids he teaches.
After reading the (fairly lengthly) preview of the book, I think I can say I agree wholeheartedly. When I was a kid I hated and distrusted that sort of attitude from parents and authority figures and I still do now. I think I was always a fairly rebellious child and I can't pin down why, but I have a strong memory from kindergarten - the teacher was teaching us to tie our shoes, and I said I already knew how to do it, and she made me go sit in the corner. I was furious. I think that was the beginning of a long trail of firmly believing authorities are full of shit. And that sort of punishment style is rife in schools - teachers who just punish for their convenience. I had to make so many insincere apologies as a student it's ridiculous. I loathed, loathed, LOATHED apologizing for things I was not sorry for, and saying please just because "it's the magic word". Why? Why do I have to do it? I always questioned why and found it lacking. I never had those moments as an adult where I look back on my childhood and think, "oh, they were right, and I was such a child." That sort of punishment never changed my behaviour. I still know I was right and that punishment is about the convenience of the adult and not the benefit of the child. I think this is the reason I became such an argumentative adult - I was always trying to argue down authority figures and explain the rationale behind what I did, but I was never listened to. "Just obey."
Ultimately I think children raised in this way will either becomes slaves for your approval with low self-esteem or just reject you entirely. My mother was (and still is) a very authoritarian abusive parent who saw her kids as little mini-reflections of her own personal achievement. She was only interested in having an ideal little academically achieving, violin-playing, ~artistic,~ polite and well-behaved pet to make her look good. Get a B on a report card? Easy way to start a shouting match.
She never supported things that I
wanted and I learned quickly not to bother even trying to get her support. One of the longest points of contention we had was over computer usage. My mom is pretty old, almost 70, and completely technologically illiterate - she's convinced technology is the devil, basically. She was always railing on me for being on the computer "too much". And yet, she didn't even ask what I was doing! I would try to show her what I did - mostly I was writing and reading other peoples' stuff. I tried to show her some of my writing once and she told me it was trash. Ironic, considering she's a writer. I taught myself how to build websites - HTML, CSS, Photoshop. I tried to show her some early stuff I made but she would never even look.
You can't stop kids from doing things they really want to do, ultimately. They're human beings with their own wills. If you make unreasonable demands they will just sneak behind your back. I remember lying to my mother constantly about where I was - I wasn't allowed to have a sleepover if there were boys present, so I would just lie and say it was only girls or lie and say I was at a female friend's house and get my friend to lie for me. The source of the problem is that my mother didn't trust me - she didn't believe that my male friends were just FRIENDS even when I outlined to her very clearly that I was not interested in dating and why. I didn't date until after highschool because I felt I wasn't ready until then. And yet my mother was always convinced that I was an immature idiot about relationships for some reason and couldn't handle myself. She was constantly passing judgment on my friends and telling we which ones she liked and wanted me to spend time with and which ones she thought were a bad influence. She didn't even know these people!
And get this. My mom was also violently against videogames and anime. I wasn't allowed to play videogames when I was a kid - so when I was in elementary school I would just play them at friends' houses. When I was 10 or 11 I would buy them behind her back with my own money from my paper route and play them at night when she was asleep. I would do most of my anime watching while she was asleep so she wouldn't come in and harass me while I was watching. I would pretend to be asleep when she came downstairs at night so I could avoid a fight. I spent so much time trying to explain how videogames inspired me but it just went in one ear and out the other. When I told her I wanted to study Japanese at university she told me "But French is your worst subject (read: I got B's); you'd just do badly at Japanese." She's only pleased that I'm studying it now because she holds a university education in high esteem and what I'm taking is less important than me going to university. It sounds nice if she can tell her peers she has two children who have graduated from university so she can skim over the one that dropped out of uni and the one that dropped out of high school. I know her approval of me entirely hinges on academic standing and social status - I'm sure if I land a high-paying job she'll love to show it off as if it were her own job. Oh, I'm sure she'll tell me she loves me, and I'm sure she does in her own fucked-up way, but she's just too emotionally damaged to express it properly and frankly I don't want to deal with it.
And she's still like that, even now that I'm an adult. And so I just started ignoring her and lying to her. Those are your two options, really - you can either blindly attempt to please an authoritarian parent or just tell them to fuck off, and the latter option is really the only option available if you want to maintain your sanity. In a way I suppose I should thank her - I learned fairly young that attempting to gain approval from authority figures is pointless and I cultivated a very independent lifestyle. I dreamed of moving out and getting my own place and supporting myself ever since I was 10. I was always trying to do things by myself, but my mother would always tell me "You're a minor! I'm responsible for you! You can't do it by yourself!" I was so angry that I couldn't legally do it even though I knew I was responsible and capable enough to take care of myself. Now that I am an adult? I LOVE IT. I never had any difficulties and I never felt homesick. I love working and setting my own schedule and buying my own food and managing my own time. It was just an incredible relief. How the fuck did I survive being a child? It was like being in jail, it was so stressful. I'm pretty sure the reason I developed colitis in high school was from the stress of living at home. I was really miserable in high school because being at home was like being on high alert all the time. I would frequently go to the mall or the library and find a big squishy chair and sleep in it - I could relax there like I never could at home. At home I knew a screaming fight could break out at any minute. When I moved out of the house... my acne immediately cleared up, too. It started up again when I began going to university so I think my acne is very stress-related.
And honestly it was boggling how much reading this book re-affirmed my ideas about parenting: you don't tell kids what to do, you listen and work out solutions with them. You figure out what they want, and help them get what they need. I don't plan to have children, but I think these strategies are also applicable to teachers.