View Full Version : request for stickies discussing definitions of terms

05-23-2006, 02:42 PM
Hi all,

First thanks to everyone who has responded to my other posts (Dobson, bullies) -- so helpful. I was looking at the thread about Crystal's book that someone posted re: questions her friend had about some concepts in the book(http://www.gentlechristianmothers.com/mb/index.php?topic=60786.0) and I realized that the questioner had similar questions that I and probably other people have. A lot of these questions seem to revolve around what is meant by certain terms/phrases. Here's some that I've scratched my head over so far:

willful defiance vs. lack of impulse control
punitive (previously, i saw only spanking/slapping as "punitive")
grace vs. permissiveness
consequences -- natural, imposed, logical
normal vs. normative
appropriate vs. age-appropriate

I feel like my main struggle to understand GBD better has centered around the fact that people seem to use these terms differently or ambiguously. I'm getting better at understanding, but I'm wondering if perhaps a sticky could be created that discusses commonly used terms/phrases so that people questioning/exploring can avoid some confusion when trying to understand the concepts?


05-23-2006, 05:38 PM
:tu You're asking some great questions!

I only have a second right now, so I'm going to quickly reply, but I'll be back!

Let me start at the bottom of your list: appropriate vs. age-appropriate

Age-appropriate is a response that you would expect from someone based on their age. For example, I expect a newborn to cry when they are hungry, a 3 year old to whine when they are hungry, a 5 year old to (sometimes! LOL) ask for candy when they are hungry (like our 5 yo sometimes does!), and an 8 yo to fix herself a snack when she's hungry or ask when the next meal is or ask us to fix her a snack (like our 8 yo does). Now, the only responses that I think are appropriate are the ones I listed for the 8 yo. My goal is to always be working my children towards appropriate responses, while understanding that, given whatever age they are, they will (sometimes) exhibit/react with age-appropriate actions. Age-appropriate actions, although to be expected with any age, can and should still be corrected, so that the child learns appropriate actions.

Does that help any?

This, to me, is so key in understand how proactive GBD is. GBD is so opposite both permissive parenting and punitive parenting. Understanding a child, and knowing that children will still act like children, no matter what discipline style you choose, in no way means you have to live with childish behavior until the child either stops the behavior or moves out of the house! :lol Knowing what age-appropriate behavior is simply helps you respond more appropriately, IMO, and also helps most moms & dads keep their cool while responding.

OK, gotta go run an errand with the family...I'll be back!

05-23-2006, 05:57 PM
willful defiance vs. lack of impulse control
Willful defiance is actually a product of the punitive parenting camp. Often it is a negative intent assigned to what is really a lack of impulse control. Lack of impulse control means that a child (or individual) is not mature enough to stop themselves from something. Many adults lack impulse control. Willful defiance is based on the idea that a child could stop themselves if they wanted to but is choosing not to because they know it is the wrong thing and will upset the parent. Willful defiance is not even an issue in GBD homes because the parent is aware of the level of maturity in their child and does not take offense at this and there is no benefit to the child who may actually defy their parent willfully. The instruction is going to be accomplished on their own or with help so it becomes a non-issue. Also, resistance/defiance is viewed as an indicator that something else is going on within the child and because people who feel badlly act badly any presence of negative behavior is addressed first on the emotional level and roadblocks are removed so that the child is set up for success.

punitive (previously, i saw only spanking/slapping as "punitive")
Punitive is adding something extra and typically painful (physical or emotional) with the belief that a child needs to suffer in order to learn. Punishments detach the relationship and discipleship cannot occur without relationship. This is why within the church most punitive teachers will develop "the right way" to spank that involves re-attaching after the detaching experience. This would be the hugs and prayers that are part of the ritual of spanking. This actually makes the punishment more problematic because the child is forced to engage in attaching behavior in the midst of a detaching experience.

grace vs. permissiveness
Grace is, by definition, unmerited favor. Permissiveness is not exercising parenting authority to teach and train a child. Often permissiveness is motiviated by fear of a child's big feelings; often it is motivated by a desire to make a child happy; often it is the result of not wanting to spank/punish and not knowing what to do instead. The ideas behind permissiveness is that children know what is best for them or that children just need some guidance and suggestions. Permissiveness is parenting that lacks action. Grace is the absence of a penalty for an action combined with teaching so that the behavior is done away with. Grace is how God interacts with us. He forgives us our sins so that we can be in relation with Him. He teaches us how to live so that we will have good lives. He doesn't always remove the natural consequences, but He paid the penalty for us on the cross :amen

consequences -- natural, imposed, logical
A consequence is anything that is the "then" in an "if/then" situation. If you run on wet cement then you may fall.
A natural consequence is what naturally happens UNLESS there is intervention. If you run into the street in front of a car the natural consequence is the car hits you and you may die. I believe that the parent needs to determine the likely natural consequences and decide whether their child is ready to BOTH survive and learn from them. If not, prevent them; if so, allow them.
An imposed consequence is something added that may be logical or arbitrary. When they are punitive they are called "piggybacking" and actually take away from the lesson that a natural consequence would provide. This is because they distract from the natural consequence and often by frustrating the child. A time out would fit in this category. The natural consequence is actually prevented and the child is put in an arbitrary consequence that does not contain a lesson.
A logical consequence is an imposed consequence that the parent determines is logically connected to the offense. These are likely to be punitive with a young child because logic isn't developed until age 10 (pre-logic at age 8). The appropriate way to apply logical consequences is what Jane Nelson suggests when she speaks of "Solutions". In order for a logical consequence to be a solution it needs to be 1) related; 2) relevant; 3) respectful; and 4) helpful in preventing the behavior from occuring again. This may be anything from handing a toddler a towel to clean up their spilled food to removing the keys from an older teen who has broken rules related to being entrusted with the car. The appropriate use of Solutions is teaching life skills and, often, preventing the natural consequences that will come with this behavior if the life lesson isn't learned.

normal vs. normative
Normal is what your child is doing--what they always do--what you know they are going to do. Normative is what the culture says your child should be doing. For example, our culture believes that babies should sleep through the night early--that is a normative thing. Normal for any individual child is whenever they actually sleep through the night. This is an important issue because if a child hits when they are frustrated then it is not fair to them to expect them to not hit or even tell them to not hit and then leave them to navigate a frustrating situation without help and then get mad when they hit. This is setting a child up for failure because of some normative belief of what they *should* do. As parents we need to deal with the reality of who our children are and what they are truly capable of as well as what they are most likely to do if left to deal with something alone.

appropriate vs. age-appropriate
Appropriate would be what is acceptable, what is okay for the child to do. Age-appropriate is what I prefer to call "age expected" because it's the behavior that is normal for a child of a certain age or circumstance. If all (or most) normal 2yo's do something then it is age appropriate. That means it is the way that God designed 2yo's to be. Typically this can be directly connected to a developmental milestone or issue. For example, preverbal children express their frustration through a variety of expressions including crying, hitting, biting, etc. If a 2yo is doing these things that is age appropriate or age expected. Clearly, however, these behaviors are not appropriate. If it's age appropriate then punishing for it would be punishing your child for being 2; but if it's INappropriate then it needs to be corrected and appropriate behavior needs to be taught.

05-23-2006, 06:00 PM
I think of punitive as things "added on" to make the kid feel bad. Things that are beyond the teaching part of discipline. That was hard for to grasp and I still struggle with wanting my kids to feel bad. Punitive can be physical as well as words, forced isolation, etc.

Willful defiance vs. lack of impulse control. Hmm. :think Well, I think this has to do with intent, which sometimes we can tell in the child, and sometimes not. Either way, you need to address the behaviour. And even if it *is* defiance (as in, able to control behaviour, and willfully making a choice to act a way that is different from the parent's request) it can still be dealt with in a graceful way.

Grace vs. Permissiveness - I see permissiveness as a lack of boundaries - either none or weak. Not backing up your requests with actions. At it's worst, apathy and neglect. Grace, in it's purest form, is undeserved. I think grace, as Paul says, is not license, which I think it can be seen as.

Consequences - natural: what would happen with no intervention; logical: respectful, related, relevant, and useful for preventing recurrence of behaviour; imposed: unrelated to offence and often a eumphenism for punishment.

Normal vs. normative - the age-old question of "what is normal?" LOL. I think of "normative" as "average," like, an average age for a kid to start crawling, or expected behaviour for a kid of that age. Normal is what is usual for that indivual (per "Crystal's Book" thread) but on these boards is obviously used in it's "normal" sense of "average," too. :giggle

Appropriate vs. age-appropriate - I have heard "age-expected" lately and I prefer that terminology. What is normative beahviour for that age group - you can expect it, be prepared for it, and commiserate with others going through the same thing - doesn't mean it's appropriate (e.g., hitting) as inapproprate behaviours need to be addressed. Understanding age-app behaviour helps formulate you to form an appropriate response to that behaviour. :)

Ok - I interviewed dh, here's his responses:

WD vs. Lack of impulse control: child choosing to do something parent asks them not to; IC - everyone struggles with (he gave example of him and a bag of Doritos), not necessarily related to age, but can be.

Punitive: anything that would put fear in a child.

G vs. P: Permissiveness is just allowing things to happen whereas Grace is more involved, using things to teach what is right.

Consequences - connontation of consequence would mean a "pre-knowledge" natural: whatever happens as result of action; imposed: if "x" happens, "y" will happen (imposed by parents); logical: type of imposed, but more apt for the child to learn from, direct corellation to original action.

What "normal" is is your pre-conceived idea of what it should be; normative is general actions rather than preconceived ideas of what those actions should be.

Appropriate vs. age-appropriate: age-ap would give reason for inappropriate behaviour, not that it's an excuse, but a truth.

05-23-2006, 07:39 PM
Wow! I was coming back to write more, but I think Crystal and Meghan (and her DH ;) ) have done such a great job! :tu

05-23-2006, 08:51 PM
punitive (previously, i saw only spanking/slapping as "punitive")
Punitive is adding something extra and typically painful (physical or emotional) with the belief that a child needs to suffer in order to learn. Punishments detach the relationship and discipleship cannot occur without relationship. This is why within the church most punitive teachers will develop "the right way" to spank that involves re-attaching after the detaching experience. This would be the hugs and prayers that are part of the ritual of spanking. This actually makes the punishment more problematic because the child is forced to engage in attaching behavior in the midst of a detaching experience.

This helps clarify how the same action ("time out"/ "taking a break") can be punitive or not, depending on the intent and the way it's implemented. "Go to your room and think about what you did wrong! [I hope you find it unpleasant to be in there]" is punitive. "You need a break to calm your body down and stop hurting people. Let's go to your room and rest" is not punitive.

A few more thoughts on the "punitive mindset." A punitive mindset locks us into reacting to behavior. We feel compelled to punish ("I won't let him get away with that"). This keeps us from showing grace to our children. We are afraid to be playful or nurturing for fear of rewarding bad behavior ("Don't laugh and hug them, they'll just keep doing it.") So, we deny ourselves tools that might help reconnect and diffuse tension. We deny our children the opportunity to feel better.

A punitive mindset sees challenges as power struggles we have to "win." We have to pick someone to be the loser, and blame them. In this mindset, we're more comfortable if they're the bad guy. So we become mind readers and decide they "meant to hurt us" or "know it bugs us" or "did it just to get to me."

:idea How about: In a permissive mindset, we're afraid of our child's unhappy feelings -- In a punitive mindset, we're afraid of their happy feelings . . . ?

05-24-2006, 02:32 PM
Thanks to everyone for their great reponses! :tu The definitions for punitive were especially helpful -- I think those are the very reasons that I first started to consider GBDing. I found that not only was I angry at ds, but that after I'd spank him, I'd think "now we're supposed to make up," but I didn't WANT to, and I seriously doubted he did either -- to have forced attachment after forced detachment (to use Crystal's words) would be superficial and unreal. I also didn't like who I was -- I felt "incosistent" -- hypocritical. I didn't like that being punitive made me more angry instead of less angry, and I dreaded every encounter because I didn't want to deal with the anger I would feel. Maybe that's one reason, too, that parents become permissive.

Raisa, that is so true, I think, about a punitive mindset being afraid of the child's happy feelings, since it relies on bad feelings to "work." I found that to be true just today when I said "come" and he started to run away, and I said "stop!" and he ran faster, laughing. :mad I caught up with him and was not very nice about making him come back with me, and he still thought it was a game, which really irritated me because it was rendering my "discipline" useless! :rolleyes

05-24-2006, 07:15 PM
In a punitive mindset, we're afraid of their happy feelings . . . ?I had to step away and think about this :think And I agree :tu

This makes sense because so often I get the question, "But doesn't that just reward them for that?" Or, "How will they learn if they get a hug instead of a time out?"

This is a great insight!

12-24-2006, 05:26 PM
I just found this and it is very helpful . I am going to use this in our parenting class we are leading. thanks!

12-24-2006, 06:24 PM
posting so i remember to come back and reread

02-19-2007, 12:13 PM
I sometimes hear parents saying they (the parents) use natural and logical consequences as a "teaching tool." I think this is all backward. Every person's born into this world with a strong drive to explore and learn about natural cause-and-effect relationships: it's the CHILDREN who use natural consequences as a learning tool: no one should be using natural consequences "on" them.

I think the healthy approach is for parents to respect their children's desires to explore these relationships, and to ONLY intervene when the children want them to -- or when they know the children really WOULD want the intervention if they fully understood what would happen (i.e., no toddler really wants to experience the consequence of pulling a pan of boiling water off the stove, so in cases like these we redirect the child; an older child may think she doesn't need to wear her coat to the park, but if the parent knows it's a windy day and she's likely to wish she had it, a caring parent would suggest bringing the coat along just in case).

I think it's natural, healthy parenting to respect our children's autonomy and let them learn in the ways they want to learn. But I don't think it naturally "follows" that we'd stand back and withhold our intervention at times when we know they'd want it -- even if we felt they could survive the consequence and learn from it. That's not treating others as WE'D like to be treated.

For instance, if I accidentally left a practically-full gallon of milk on the counter after dinner and went to bed, and my husband came down for a bedtime snack and noticed, it wouldn't naturally "follow" that he'd leave it out and let it spoil "to teach me a lesson" -- or that he'd insist I get out of bed and carry my latched-on toddler down the stairs with me to put it away so "maybe next time I'd remember."

If no one noticed the milk and it DID sit out overnight, it wouldn't naturally "follow" that dh would say, "You've wasted $3.50, and that's about half the cost of that new book you wanted me to pick up -- so I'll just wait 'till you find a way to make up the $3.50 before you can have the book. Maybe you can do some babysitting, or sling the baby on your back and go shovel the neighbors' snow or something."

Even if I chronically forgot to put food back in the fridge, my husband's natural response would be to double-check and help me with this, not to impose some unpleasant consequence to "make me think."

What "naturally" follows if milk gets left out to spoil is, if it's the last carton, the family might need to have eggs and toast instead of cereal in the morning ... what naturally follows is, if milk's an essential part of the family's diet, the milk will need to be replaced as soon as possible. Sometimes our budget's extremely tight, so if we wasted our last gallon of milk, we might have to eat really creatively for a few days 'till dh got another paycheck --

or it's possible that he could replace the milk right away but not have enough left over for my book, in which case he'd buy the book out of his next paycheck; if I was really desperate for something new to read NOW he'd pick something up at the library to get me through.

I just don't think we should approach the situation any differently if it was our CHILD who made the error. I think treating my child differently than how I'D want to be treated is essentially slapping the "natural consequences" label on a punishment.

02-19-2007, 01:29 PM
About the logical consequence of taking the keys away from the older teen who's acted irresponsibly with the car -- I'm wondering how "logical" it is for a 16yo young adult, who's been primarily raised with GBD, to need such intensive parenting?

I realize we've all come to GBD from a variety of different background situations, and I fully understand that a teen who's been raised with primarily punitive parenting isn't likely to mentally BE a young adult at 16 (or even at 19 or 21). Some of my punitive friends have teens who still seem to be making really important life decisions based on questions like, "What punishment will my parents give me if I sneak out in the middle of the night to have sex with my boyfriend ... and happen to get caught?"

It seems like many of them just weigh the fun of the misbehavior against the parent-imposed consequence IF they get caught, and the actual likelihood of getting caught -- and when they're grown up with punishment, some really spirited teens reach the place where they're "used to" spankings, and "used to" being grounded for a month, and they just develop an "I don't care" attitude. It's like the years of punishment have totally blinded them to the potential life-altering consequences of unwed pregnancy or sexually-transmitted disease, or reckless driving, or substance abuse. They're just focused on surviving the short-term punishment from Mom and Dad. With those kids you might really have to lock up the car keys (and your prescription drugs, too!).

But I think a primarily GBD-raised teenager is capable of thinking about long-term consequences -- such as killing or disabling themselves, or someone else, through reckless driving. I think a GBD teen would shudder at the thought of having to live the rest of his life knowing someone else's child, sibling, friend, or parent is dead because HE wanted to drive twenty miles over the speed limit in freezing rain.

I say this because it seems unnatural that so many parents (Christian and otherwise) are struggling to "get control of" young people who are physically adults capable of being parents themselves. I realize we live in a complex, dysfunctional society where it's generally not advisable for young people to mate and bear children the moment they reach puberty -- and where young adults often need our financial support well beyond the point when teens in primitive societies are fully participating in adult society

(But for the sake of accuracy, I must point out that primitive people live in interdependent societies where no one, of any age, goes off on his or her own to live independently from the group) --

But even though I wouldn't encourage my daughters to marry right after menarche, and I'd want to help them as much as possible in preparing for their life's work, I STILL don't anticipate continuing to "discipline" them when they're physically young adults. That's because I'm expecting they'll ALSO be young adults mentally and emotionally, albeit young adults living in a mixed-up society where they're likely to need greater parental support than, say, the Yekuana of the Amazon River-Basin.

I'm thinking a GBD parent should be able to relate to her teen in more of a mentor/mentee (or older adult/younger adult) sort of relationship -- rather than a parent/child relationship. But my oldest is only 7, so I can't say I really KNOW. What are long-time GBD parents of teens finding?

02-23-2007, 04:11 PM
thank you for sharing your thoughts on things. I just need to point out that they do not define GBD so that anyone reading who is actually looking for definitions (which is the purpose of the thread :) ) will not be confused by the thoughts you've added. If you'd like to start more specific threads (and I know you did start one already, but maybe more specific ones) we can talk about it more.

Certainly no one can impose a natural consequence--that's just not possible. But Solutions (a la Jane Nelson) are beautiful teaching tools. They are not punitive logical consequences though.

You seem to be arguing against punishment and yet there is no presentation of punishments here :scratch