In the network culture, it is easy to believe things that are not true and focus on things that do not really matter. At Core Connectivity we offer insights and tools to build parent confidence, foster resilience and strengthen family bonds in a cyber-powered world.
In this feature, discipline is explained as a state of heart and mind that patrols a parent’s thoughts about worries and behavior issues.
- Are you concerned about bullying and cyberbully pressure you and your children are experiencing?
- Are you tempted to make excuses for your child’s actions or are you experiencing the parents of other children justifying mean or inappropriate behavior of their children?
- Do you understand the difference between punishing and discipline? A critical distinction that opens or closes a child’s spirit to share what is happening in their world.
I have studied how the pedophiles and commercial interests engage with tech-savvy youth in order to exploit them so that I can help parents better understand how to connect, build trust and instill discipline. Below are some insights about forgiveness, resilience and discipline to help parents be more confident raising children using mobile connectivity.
Why does forgiveness make sense?
Consider that in their online worlds our children are swimming in a sea of judgment that outcasts people who express a different value or point of view. And unchecked, disagreements and diversity of perspective can be met with great cruelty and hostility. One of the most horrific examples is the loss of a child to suicide because the cyberbully effect can actually break a person who is not prepared for this cyber-powered cruelty. Therefore taking responsibility for our own thought leadership as individuals and as families is essential.
I remain eternally grateful to my dear friend Lisa Berry, whose 17-year-old son Michael died by suicide in 2008. She and her husband chose to honor her son’s precious life with insights about the vulnerability and resilience of our humanity. She educated parents and school administrations about the need to prepare children for cruelty with pro-social behavior inspired by empathy. As a mother of a child slain by the cyberbully effect of mobile connectivity in the hands of youth, my friend Lisa has demonstrated amazing strength to patrol and conform her thoughts about learning how to make a better future as a response to the weight of her grief,
Lisa’s son’s death was a response to a cyberbully attack started by someone who thought it would be funny to start a rumor that he was gay, after learning her son was saving himself for marriage. Once the rumor went viral on social media, the entire student body treated him as a social outcast. And the school administration did not understand at that time the potentially lethal impact of such isolation made possible with devices in the hands of youth. He had asked for help and was essentially told to ignore it. Her son hid this assault from his family because of the humiliation and shame of being attacked inspires one to hide. So the big lesson for parents with regard to forgiveness and resilience is that it must be safe to talk about shame-inspiring experiences at home so you can exercise thought leadership. Encourage your child to focus on the thoughts that are opposite of the bully messages. This is your power and your child’s power – to form agreements with hopeful thoughts and commit to them.
A disciplined mind can channel the grace necessary to hold ourselves and others accountable with a desire and hope to grow into better versions of ourselves. I have accepted cruelty as a part of the human condition that is prone to error – to learning and acting on things that are beneath our dignity. When it becomes the norm to expect the people in your family, peer group and community to always conform to your opinion and vice versa, it is more difficult to learn how to foster resilience which is only possible by experiencing forgiveness as a life skill to overcome assaults on our humanity and painful adversity. When we can understand our inherent power to forgive is the origin of resilience when we or loved ones are under attack, on or off line, then it is possible to confront the bully and hold all involved accountable for their own actions or inaction, with confidence and hope to learn and do better in the future.
(To learn more about confronting the bully or book a 90-minute training event about creating resilient tech-savvy families, contact Joanna).
Forgive versus Excuse
Forgiveness is a type of liberty. In your own mind it is the act of letting go of an offense when someone has hurt you, or when you have done something that brings about shame, or when you encounter a circumstance that causes pain. It does not mean you excuse it; it means that you do not allow yourself to become emotionally bonded to the offense, the person or the circumstance. Rather, you seek to learn from it with the aim of becoming a stronger and better-informed version of yourself.
On the other hand, to make excuses for the offensive behavior is to somehow justify why bad behavior happened and if unchecked can wind up “enabling”, by condoning or reinforcing poor conduct. In one cyberbullying case that contributed to the suicide of Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, Mass., one mother excused her daughter’s participation in the harassment by saying, “she was only calling her names.”
This is how I understand resilience: it is drawing upon the spirit of power and love and sound mind inherent in every individual that equips and informs our response to cruelty and adversity with thoughts of being well and free, not thoughts of victim-hood. In this way we and our children are all learning executives – learning how to respond to the errors of thought that lead to anti-social behavior by choosing not to agree with hopeless and vengeful thoughts inspired by bullying and cruel acts. The decision to forgive prevents you from becoming the victim in your own mind. In this way it is possible to hold yourself and others accountable for behavior without anger in your heart; this means that you enforce consequences as appropriate, or witness natural consequences without wishing ill for those involved in your pain. This is how we can break cycles of hostility in families and in communities.
Difference between punishing and disciplining your child
From the perspective of running a household, I understand forgiveness is the inherent capacity of every individual to separate in their own mind the behavior from the value of the whole person. And in family life, wherein familiarity can lead to offensive acts and resentments that foster hostility in relationships, it is necessary to create a family culture that features trustworthy character as learned behavior. In this culture of individual liberty and accountability, after experiencing consequences for offensive behavior, you can offer a clean slate (i.e., do not keep bringing up past behavior as evidence of being “wrong”) and express your confidence in your child’s capacity to do better the next time.
This is the difference between punishment and discipline. Consequences can be punishing, but when you deliver a consequence with anger in your heart – that is the ultimate punishment of being “outcast” – and the lesson your child learns is that the crime was to get caught. And they are more likely to keep secrets from you.
So when your child has done something that earns a negative consequence (natural or one of your house rules), such as sending a nude photo of herself to a love interest resulting in harassment, or lying to you about where they have been resulting in broken trust, it is important to remember that at their very core, children possess the same power as adults to learn how to become trustworthy. Our job as parents is to help our children have this confidence in themselves no matter how badly they mess up, or how painful their online social experiences have been. For we can encourage them to understand that the consequences are to teach them how to know and do better the next time.
Think of forgiveness as correction without condemnation, which instills discipline with hope and fosters resilience as a response to behavior and mental health issues.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device.
Peace on earth begins with peace at home.
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Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.