Homeschooling, discipline and race

I know some homeschooling mums homeschool for reasons to do with race or culture or religion and they are all very personal issues that can be complicated so it’s difficult to have an opinion.  As we are in Nigeria, which has a black majority I don’t have to confront a race issue but when I went back to the UK funnily enough I did.

I attended a black homeschool fair I’d been invited to. Partly because it was the only homeschool fair I knew of. I would have gone to any homeschool fair available. I was also looking forward to it because I figured culturally I would also have stuff in common with the other mums there too.

Anyway, both of my sons started acting up at this fair.  It was like the devil took them. They were bored and I guess felt the strangeness of the place anyway they made a helluva lot of noise and all the other parents looked at me like I didn’t know the first thing about parenting (all their kids were sitting quietly staring at my kids with their mouths open) and to cut a long story short I had to leave. *sigh*

A male friend  who was there by sheer coincidence took all of this very seriously. He has four sons up to the age of 18 and can set his watch by them (but he beats them).  He came to tell me how horrified he was by my sons’ behaviour and that I should not call myself a homeschooler if I can’t keep my kids in line.   Then he came to my house the next day to show me how to keep my kids in line.  (By then I was quite broken like those parents on Supernanny).

Now for  the race part. In that in telling me off my friend berated me that you cannot not discipline  your black sons properly because whereas a white wayward kid might be tolerated by society, your sons will end up in prison and be treated harshly by the system and fail to find employment and fail at everything else and then well – at this point it’s looking pretty bad, huh.

And so I was forced to confront the race issue.  He even said I had no excuse because corporal punishment is still the ‘norm’ in Nigeria.  I could ‘beat’ my kids without worrying about the authorities.

And so far I’d been avoiding smacking them -bar the odd tap.  But now I was told that because of a racist society I needed to step it up.  And it really set me thinking.  I don’t want my boys to be automatons and I don’t think physical chastisement is the only way to go and I don’t agree with the kind of chastisement I got which involved slippers, belts, canes and once a cling film box that left nasty cuts on my arm from the metal edging but I think every parent has to make a personal choice and each child is different.  I can’t say physical punishment didn’t do me any harm because I was often afraid of my mum even well into adulthood and out of fear I lied to her and kept things from her when sometimes I would have done better to confide in her. However, I did pretty well at school and socially and kept well away from trouble.

So I really don’t know what the answer is.  Since this advice, I have been a lot more aware of discipline. I even bought ‘To Train Up a Child’ even though that’s a bit too extreme for me and I don’t find that level of discipline necessary – I still like having expressive, impulsive kids because these qualities are also my strengths but I have implemented time out in a more consistent manner with the three year old and applied it to the 18 month old with surprisingly effective results. I have nipped boisterous or disrespectful behaviour in the bud and yes, sometimes I have given a smack to the three year old on his hand or quickly tugged his ear to get his attention.   An ear tug makes them surprisingly and immediately present in the way yelling doesn’t.  I have pretty much stopped shouting as a result.  I have also started sitting training, which is a way for me to know that they are safe and quiet while I get on with something else, rather than following me from room to room whining.

Disciplining my kids is definitely a work in progress and my mind is not made up.  What do you do for discipline and why?

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3 thoughts on “Homeschooling, discipline and race

  1. Honestly, we subscribe to the “Train Up a Child” method. The discipline is not severe, if done properly; without anger. When our children get out of line at home, they are sent to their rooms to think on their actions and allow me an opportunity to pray. We discuss their actions and the appropriate discipline is applied. When out, we remove them from the public eye (usually in the car or restroom), discuss their actions and they are disciplined. We have done this since they were very young and it works!

    I do not yell at my children, I do not ‘beat’ my children, and I do not discipline in anger. Our children, in turn, are taught to reflect on their actions, accept their consequences, and respect those in authority.

    The problem most people have with corporal punishment is that they have never seen it acted out properly. We associate a spanking with an angry parent who is choosing to beat their children into submission. This should NEVER happen. If a spanking is in order, it should be done calmly and only after the child fully understands what they did to deserve the painful consequence. Why a spanking over something else? Sitting a child in a chair allows them to spend too much time feeling sorry for themselves. A quick act of discipline deals with the issue and allows us to move forward; reconnecting our bond. Grounding is the same concept; it lasts so long the child may instead focus on how you reacted to their rebelliousness, instead of what got them the consequence. Pain of any other sort (such as pulling of ears or taps on the head/hand) is essentially the same as proper spanking. If not done in anger, it is really only a matter of where on the body you choose to enact the discipline. As you already do this, as mentioned above, I think it is the spanking in anger that is really the concern.

    Truthfully, I am sorry to see this become a race issue. I never look at a child and say, “Oh, they will be a horrible adult because they are black and not trained well.” I see the action and understand that, if not dealt with, it will lead to a hard adult. This has nothing to do with skin whatsoever. There are ‘bad adults’ of every skin color; not one is an exception.

    I am sorry this other person brought you low. In my opinion, he should have asked if you wanted help and offered understanding. If you asked his thoughts, THEN he should have offered, but not before. In addition, he should have shared in love, with the intention of edifying your family and being helpful. Never condemn someone else under the guise of helping.

    Again, discipline is a beautiful thing; if done correctly. How you choose to act out that discipline is between you and the Lord. Discipline doesn’t mean our children are not expressive, but that their choice of expression be presented properly and with respect.

    It should also be noted that discipline and training are two different things. Discipline is given when someone is rebellious and needs to be brought back into a right relationship with God. Training is when we are attempting to establish a preferred method of behavior; there should be no consequences for a child who is struggling with their training.

    I apologize for the length of my comment. I hope you understand my heart in sharing. All of us still have something to learn about discipline, training, and parenting; no one has gotten it perfectly right. It certainly seems as if you are giving it some good thought though and are heading in the right direction. I wish you the best in this endeavor. And, if you happen to discover some previously unthought-of way to keep our kiddos in line, do share! We could all use the help!

    • Wow thank you so much for your thoughtful comment along with all the support since I started blogging, much appreciated. I’ve been thinking a lot about discipline since this incident happened and even though my friend did upset me I think it was an important moment in me trying to finding my own way to ‘train’ I do agree with that terminology. The race thing I’m still pondering. But yes you should only ever raise your child right regardless of race/race issues. Haha when I stumble on the holy grail of parenting, I will write the book!

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