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10:14 AM
@AdamHeeg So, we are products of our respective cultures, for sure. In Sweden, as I said, corporal punishment and (as the text of the law goes) "other abusive treatment" has been illegal for half a century. So it can be said objectively that Sweden has moved away from a view of parenting where physical punishment can ever be seen as a reasonable ingredient. I would say we have progressed away from it, but I realize that's a value judgment and one that you may not share.
I cannot predict whether this will be the trajectory of all nations moving forward, but in my view, it fits into a natural progression of a nation's humanitarian coming of age. I don't know whether you'll appreciate the comparison, but as an invitation to see this through my eyes, I imagine you feel much the same way about the emancipation of women.
If you look back 50 years, I expect you would find an established view that women has to be treated in a consistent manner, held on a tight leash lest they become unruly, and may require a beating to establish who is the authority figure of the family. The womens' rights movement met exactly the same kind of opposition, that it would be irresponsible not to rein them in, and that by yielding your authority, women would be out of control and rule the family.
I fully expect that you will think the two are completely uncomparable, as women were historically inaccurately not considered mental equals, whereas children are in fact not fully developed mentally. You could spin my words to say the comparison is belittling of women.
But it is foreboding, I would say, that the arguments are so reminiscent, because children are our equals in terms of human value, and we must be careful to appeal to our adulthood only in terms of the responsibility we shoulder, not in terms of how we treat each others.
For all the differences between adults and children, I think it is still a useful litmus test for all interactions with our children, to ask ourselves how it would fly if we thought the same about our interactions with our partner, male or female.
How would it be received if I said I need a method to deal with my wife's temper tantrums? Or that I have a problem that she "doesn't listen" when she chooses not to comply with my requests? Or that, no matter if there's one scenario where her view technically makes sense, it is still more important that I am consistent, so she doesn't learn that she can have her way by arguing more persistently?
Adults and children are different, yes, but we should be careful not to use that difference as a carte blanche to all differences in treatment. If we realize one manner of treating others would be extremely ill received by an adult, we must stop ourselves to carefully evaluate whether children are so different from adults that this particular difference in treatment is vindicated.
I hope you aren't offended by the comparison. I'm not trying to frame you as a wife beater. I just find that this comparison is often useful to communicate my point of view. You are obviously free not to agree with it.
 
10:29 AM
If this view of parenting piques your interest at all, I would recommend Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional parenting" as a sort of manifesto, that lays down why cooperating with our children is the morally right thing to do (also backed with references to it's practical feasibility), and "Raising human beings" by Ross W. Greene that explains in detail how this work may look in practice, and the references backing that it's in fact one of the most effective ways of
of working in with children with behavioural problems in particular.
Greene's most frequently cited statement is that children do well if they can. The recognition that what we see as problem behaviours are often attributable to lagging skills, and that we are much better off partnering with the child to helping them succeed than by coercively trying to subdue a behaviour, when that behaviour is just a symptom.
 

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