A “F” on the Discipline Report Card: Fairness, Part Two

Fairness is an essential part of disciplining effectively. As I wrote in the previous post, fairness necessitates considering expectations and just how legitimate each is. To be truly fair, parents need to know on what they are basing their expectations. 

Evaluating parenting resources as a good consumer and parent

Diane Wagenhals, Program Director, Master Trainer, Curricula Writer, Researcher, Mother and GrandmotherDevelopment

This is an amazing age of exploding resources on virtually every topic imaginable. There are literally tens of thousands of books on parenting and thousands more resources online.

Two important responsibilities for parents around this exploding plethora of resources are… 1) to make sure to take advantage of the opportunities to learn about children’s growth and development in order to create fairer expectations; 2) secondly, take the responsibility to be good consumers of the information available.

Criteria for evaluation

When I consider whether to value or believe information contained in a book, blog or article, I look at the credentials of the author to make sure the person has a background that qualifies him or her (in the respective field) to be viewed as an expert. Also, I look at the references on which the book, post or article has been based. I am more likely to embrace ideas if I feel confident that the person or people in whom I am investing my trust are qualified when they describe developmental processes or suggest parenting approaches.

For example, when exploring research on spanking, I came across several websites that to me appear credible, such as: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/23/health/effects-spanking-brain/. The sites appear to be well- researched information as well as offer referrals for other sites.

I also found a 2012 article from the American Psychological Association  “The Case Against Spanking” that was based on meta-analysis of 26 other research documents. While more technical perhaps than the previous websites, I like the highly-scientific approaches used by the author and obviously that it was approved by the American Psychological Association.

Be wary of opinion articles

Other information available might be someone’s opinion versus information based on solid research. Be wary of those who are writing books and describing their own opinion and observations, based on personal experiences. They may not state what their book or article is based on. It might be just their own experience.

Some authors, like the Ezzo’s Growing Kids God’s Way and Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart, have sold millions of copies of their books and yet most of the research-based parenting professionals are appalled by their recommendations. Http://fresnofamily.com/parenting/ap/dangers-of-ezzo-babywise/ is a blog with excellent references to back up this statement. They use, and many would say greatly distort, Biblical passages and their theological background to qualify them as “parenting experts.”

The thousands and perhaps millions of children’s lives that have been profoundly hurt by parents who trusted and then followed the advice in books like these is an example of why parents need to be critical thinkers and good consumers of all information on which they are basing their parenting.

Check out whom to trust

If parents are going to be fair with their children, something that is an essential responsibility for healthy parenting and healthy discipline, they need to consider the sources of their information and how qualified those are who make the recommendations. Parents need to get into the habit of checking credentials of anyone they are going to trust, and search out non-biased, well-rounded, and accurate information. Only then can parents create the kinds of expectations that are more likely to be fair and reasonable.

Invitation to reflect:

  1. What are some of the sources you have used on which to base your expectations of your children?
  2. How do you know they are credible?

Diane Wagenhals, Director of Institute for Professional Education and Development, Lakeside Educational Network