I was talking to my dear friend Zahra and we were making plans to have tea together next week.
I was driving as we were talking and when it came time for me to look at my calendar to pick a date I pulled over before I looked at my phone.
As I did I asked the question:
“Am I pulling over because I want to avoid a ticket?
Or am i pulling over because I care about the safety of others?”
Zahra promptly said:
“Oh My God, those tickets are the worst!”
I Was Trying To Avoid The Ticket
To be honest, a significant part of me was trying to avoid the ticket
and not necessarily thinking about the safety of myself or others.
Thinking about the kind of person I want to be
I would prefer that my motivation for my actions
was about caring for others
rather than fearing the consequence of my actions to myself.
Who Am I Without The Threat Of Punishment?
It seems to me that if that threat of punishment wasn’t there
I might have made the less safe and caring choice.
That feels like a selfish and self-centered motivation
rather than loving and compassionate one.
Of course this made me think about parenting.
No surprise, everything makes me think about parenting!
What Inner Motivation Do We Want For Our Children?
Do we want to raise our children to ‘not text while they are driving’ to avoid the ticket
or to ‘not text while they are driving’ so that they do not hurt anyone?
If your answer to that question is that you don’t care why they do it as long as they don’t text while they are driving then you are probably reading the wrong blog and might want to check out the one down the hall.
I think this is an important question for us to ponder
because it can dramatically change many of our parenting decisions.
How Can We Teach Our Kids To Behave Well With No Threat Of Punishment?
If we want our kids to behave well
even when there is no threat of punishment
then we must create that atmosphere for them.
We must teach them to make the right decisions
based on how they feel inside
rather than from fear of what will happen if they don’t.
Doing Away With Punishment And Consequences
Clearly if we are thinking this way
we must do away with punishments and consequences.
If we use punishments and consequences to control our children’s actions
then we are forcing them into a mindset of thinking about themselves first.
We are forcing them to think about avoiding pain
rather than seeking the highest good.
And just like I might not have pulled over to look at my calendar when I was driving today,
our children might not make the best decisions for the highest good
if there is no threat of punishment hanging over their heads.
Let Us Encourage Them To Seek The Highest Good For Its Own Sake
If they learn to evaluate situations based on their feelings rather than fear
and if they develop a sense of wanting to do good by people
in an atmosphere of complete freedom
then the decision making skills they acquire will be of the highest nature.
Making the right choice will not be dependent on
them experiencing punishment for misbehaviour,
but will come from a deep sense of caring
for their fellow human being.
Isn’t this a wonderful quality to pass along to our children?
I certainly think so.
The Higher Path Is Always The More Challenging One
And The More Rewarding!
Of course it is much more challenging to work with kids in this manner.
Especially since generations and generations of children
have been brought up having their behaviour controlled
through punishment and consequences.
It can be so hard to see any other way.
I hope you will join me in thinking about this
more peaceful and deeper non punitive
method of parenting and relating to your children.