Growing Kids God’s Way – Part 9

I’m honestly not sure how to approach this section. The whole of the next two chapters is regarding discipline and correction. The way Gary strings this together is confusing. Below is his flow chart for discipline. And it does mimic the way the chapters both flow. Honestly these are probably the most problematic chapters but their chaotic organization makes it hard to approach them in an organized way.

The first chapter in this duo is “Chapter 11: Discipline With Correction.”

Gary literally titles his sections in these two chapters via this graph including their alphanumerical codes. The first on the list is B3 – Correction. In this section he defines a few terms (that he devised himself) and speaks about his ideas around correction. He starts off by defining punishment as, “The fitting retribution of an offenses. In child training, it serves a moral purpose; it communicate to children a value of good and evil by the weight of punishment ascribed to each wrongful act.” p173. I want to pull that apart a little here. Gary is stating that a child learns about morality by the weight of the punishment he receives for a wrong. So a child needs to receive punishment that scales upward as the perceived crime worsens. Justice is always to be punitive and a child is to learn this through discipline and punishment.

We then move on to a definition of correction. “Correction is the act of bringing back from error or unacceptable deviation from the standard.” The phrasing as a whole bothers me. Especially the wording around “deviation from the standard.” With this type of definition anything truly could become a “deviation from the standard” and need to be corrected with punishment.

Gary gives two “governing principles” for how to proceed. The first is as follows, “The type of correction depends on the presence or absence of evil motive.” Garry states that actions that are viewed as a deviation but aren’t motivated wrongly are still still face consequences but that the consequences should be “natural” or “logical.” I’m not sure how he doesn’t see either one of those things as punishment, but in his eyes those are not under the term “punishment.” Punishment from Gary’s viewpoint is to be enacted anytime a child is making a willful decision to do wrong. Even from his own definition it is extremely hard to make out what Gary is trying to communicate. But it’s very clear that any violation by a child that is viewed as willful rather than accidental is a much higher offense, and it is worthy of a higher level of punishment.

Within this portion of the text a graph occurs. In it Gary illustrates that younger children will receive more “punishment” and that as a child grows the punishment will decrease. With older age coming more “consequences” instead of “punishment.” Keep in mind that Gary previously made clear that punishment was generally a worse thing that what he views as “consequences.” So younger children are often receiving more discipline.

p174 Growing Kids God’s Way

Moving to the next “governing principle,” Gary states “The punishment / consequences must fit the crime. Punishment sets a value on behavior.” Once again this principle is just reinforcing the idea that punishment must scale with the severity of the crime. Within this the author gives an example of putting a child in time out because he hit his sister with a plastic bat. The author clearly notes that this is not a sufficient punishment. In my eyes it’s clear that Gary seems to have a trend of edging towards encouraging more severe punishment. I’ll post below a quote that really stood out from this section.

“It is important to note that a child’s sense of justice is established through punishment, not rewards.”

p174 Growing Kids God’s Way

The next major point is B4 Childishness. The odd part about this is that he completely removed the idea of a child intentionally doing something “bad” from this section. But he still feels that childish behavior that he terms “honest mistakes” needs correction. He gives an example of his child accidentally knocking over a lamb, and he states this needs correction.

If you look up at the flow chart he then moves to subsections under the childishness category. These deal with how he feels a parent should correct the child’s “foolishness.” The first step a parent is advised to take is “C1 Admonishment.” This step is merely a warning. Next is “C2 Related Consequences.” Gary states this step can override the admonishment step at times. And then proceeds to branch off and define these “related consequences.” (Look up at the flow chart again – at times Gary’s writing is confusing.)

“C3 Property” is the first of the subsection under this set of consequences. Keep in mind all of these consequences are for a child’s “foolishness.” The example under this point is a child forgetting their bike outside after being told to place in the garage. The appropriate correction in this instance was the child having his bike taken away for several days. This section advocates for loss of access to property as a consequence of foolishness.

“C4 Privilege” is the next subsection under the banner of consequences for childness. In this section a child is described as being told not to crush shells for the bird on the porch but instead to do it on the sidewalk. The child doesn’t listen and because of that the child looses the privilege of feeding the birds for several weeks, and was forced to clean the porch of the shells. It seems that this section advocates for loss of privilege as a consequence of foolishness.

“C5 Personal Responsibility” is the last subsection here. The author believes that children should be held accountable for any accidents that affect other’s property. He returns to the example of his child breaking a lamp. Within this example the child was forced to do enough extra chores to pay for the worth of the lamp. (Remember that a child has to do chores above their normal expected tasks in order to receive income.) This section states that a child, as a consequence, must repay any damage to property – even if it occurred as an accident.

The next major section in this chapter is “B5 Foolishness.” This the counterpart to what the author previously termed “childishness.” The author sees foolishness as anytime a child is willfully being bad. He does go into more detail.

“Disobeying, talking back, refusing to accept correction, and rejecting any form of authority are all expression of direct, willful defiance. The haughty look pretending not to hear, pleading ignorance to the obvious after being caught in a misdeed, doing something good or cute to get out of doing what was instructed, and constantly saying, ‘I forgot,’ are various forms of the more passive, indirect forms of defiance…Sulking, pouting, and whining may be other subtle forms of passive rebellion.”

p178-179 Growing Kid’s God’s Way

We are then straight back into more subsections of this grouping of childness. He divides these into “three levels of offense” with the third one being the highest. “Level 1: Verbal Admonishment,” “Level 2: Verbal Admonishment and Action,” and “Level 3: Consequential Punishment.” It’s an odd way to group things as the “levels” also correspond with the level of punishment.

The first level, Admonishment, is when a child does an action that is out of character for them that is wrong. The author advises that a single action out of place does not need punishment. The child is to be reprimanded for their actions and given a warning not to repeat the action. The author does clarify that if the child is repeated committing offenses that the punishment needs to increase to the next level.

The second level is “Verbal admonishment and Action.” This level of punishment is reserved for children that refuse to heed a warning or for unwanted habits / behaviors. The author recommends a single swat / spanking, or a period of time out for this level of punishment.

One of his stories / illustrations for this level of punishment bugged me. He tells the story of a little girl who has been told not to kick a ball into the garden. She continues to play close to the garden, and the ball does go close to the garden but it never goes in. The mother in the story disciplines the child because the child is not being careful enough. Even though the child did not disobey the parent directly. The author claims the child should have understood that the mother’s instructions to not kick the ball into the garden also should have communicated that the child needed to be cautious and reserved with their play. This to the author is a “level two” offense. Even though the child never disobeyed the parent.

The next level of offense is “consequential punishment.” The author states this level of punishment is for children that routinely disobey instruction, rebellious actions, “moral violations,” or disobedience or disrespect towards those in authority. His example for this section is a child that is told to stop playing with a door. The child listens for 15min then chooses to play with the door again. According to the author this action is a level three offense that requires punishment that would inflict some type of pain upon the child. I will direct quote the author here as his explanation is confusing. “Pain can come by way of natural and logical consequence, loss of privilege, restitution, and when appropriate, chastisement.” p183 (In the next chapter the author will clarify these terms. But I will note here that the author uses the term chastisement interchangeably with spanking.)

While all of this might sound reasonable when you look at the definitions, the examples the author gives show that there is very little room for the child to make mistakes or mess up. A child who plays with a door after being told to leave it alone is subject to punishment that must inflict pain. And a child that accidentally knocks over a lamp must work for weeks (the author made it clear a child has to do additional hard labor to earn money earlier in the text) to slowly pay back the parent for the damage done. And an example of a child being punished for an action they were not informed was wrong.

Within this chapter, punishment always seems to veer towards the higher levels of punishment. And it’s very evident that the child is not to be allow a second warning or admonishment. Anything requiring a second warning requires a timeout or physical punishment inflicting pain. And while all of these tiers and flow charts make it sound precise and logical a parent is still the final authority in which punishment fits the crime. As so many of these levels or tiers are based on if it seems like a child is acting in defiance to a parents instruction. Or if the child’s actions are interpreted as rebellious.

A note to the reader: I will try to put out the next in this series relatively quickly as the last portion of Chapter 11 leaves a lot of confusion as to what the author thinks is “punishment that inflicts pain.” And he has three separate tiers under the category of “Level 3: Consequential Punishment.” The author seems to often use a lot of his own made up definitions and wording within his writing. And it can lead to a lot of confusion.

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