8 Dec 2011

What's Wrong With A Little Threat Among Parents and Children..Everything


Maybe it's an American thing but when I saw this Tweet from @ChristyTV, Christy McDonald: "Ho ho ho parents... it's time to officially use the Santa threat. tinyurl.com/6nmu5wa #parenting #santa"  I just had to respond.

On her blog  she defends her use of the threat; in part she writes ".....there’s nothing wrong with a little he’s-gonna-find-out-who’s-naughty-and-nice-so-you-better-not-hit-your-sister-again-or-Santa-won’t-bring-you-any-presents reminder."  Really Christy! Really!  I think that the "Santa Threat" and all other threats don't teach our children what we really want them to know and have: Respect and self-discipline.

All threats the Santa and my personal favourite: "If you don't eat all your dinner no desert!", are hollow.  Hollow because they backfire more often they "work."  Think about what the Santa threat says.  I have no authority, no standing with you, my child, so I have to go outside to find a greater authority, and this authority brings you presences!  What is the child hearing?  "Goody, Mom and Dad don't have sh*t but this Santa guy!  Yeah, give me cr*p I don't really need and I will jump through hoops for you!"  What you are really saying is things are a lot more important than people.  In a few years when the kids realize that Santa isn't really an authority in the house, the threat will have no meaning and either do you; because by now you have become as hollow as the threats you use to control your children.

If we want our children to have respect and self-discipline than threats get in our way, they weaken us as parents; threats make us weak leaders destroying our Role as Queen/Guide of our homes.  For example: In our house we NEVER use food as a discipline tool, which is what threats are: cheap discipline tools.  If our children eat very little they got very little desert.  What we found was that if they eat dinner to their satisfaction they were full and didn't want desert.  In fact in our house desert is a rarity, reserved for those special occasions.  It was our thought that to threaten with desert you make the sweet more important than the healthy meal.  The desert became the goal, not the nourishing food.   So with that in mind think about the Santa threat: the things become more important than the person who gave them.  It isn't the love and time you put into the gift; it’s only the gift that counts!  Come on moms do we really feel God is calling us to raise children like that?

Here is an article for the American national newspaper USA TODAY that backs-up my point:

By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
Every December, parents go through the same rituals. Trimming the tree. Baking the cookies. Using Santa — or his helper, the Elf on the Shelf — to threaten the kids.
Most parents will admit that they've outsourced discipline to Santa at least once. As in, "He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. And he may just cross you off his list, if you don't stop screaming right now."
CHRISTMAS PHENOM: 'The Elf on the Shelf' success story
Yet many experts say this ploy doesn't work for very long and sends the wrong message. When children are hungry or tired, even the threatened loss of presents won't help them control themselves, doctors say.
"The Santa line only works for about five minutes," says child psychologist Edward Christophersen of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Turning Santa into an "enforcer" also drains a lot of joy from the holiday, he says. "It paints Santa in a very negative light."
Even the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon, which has succeeded in commercializing Santa's disciplinary function, can be a little creepy, some experts say.
"It can feel really weird to think that someone is always watching you," says Lawrence Balter, a New York City child psychologist. His advice: Keep the holidays separate from discipline.

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