Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parenting without bribery

Another heated conversation at the office with me having to explain why bribery is not a good way to parent.  Sure, it gets you results.  But compliance is not the goal -- self-discipline is the goal.
I did a bit of research to support my POV.  If I keep having to bribe my kids to behave:

1. they learn that they must be paid in order to be decent people ("what do I get for doing x?")
2. I'm sending the message that the behavior must be unpleasant, since they "have to be rewarded" for doing it
3. the bribes and rewards have to get bigger and better in order to keep working
4. I end up having to intervene all the time instead of them learning to behave on their own
5. I rob them of feeling the intrinsic reward that comes from behaving (e.g. warm feeling from sharing), thus decreasing the likelihood that they will repeat the behaviour on their own
6. they do not learn, understand, or value the behavior that they are being bribed or threatened to do, they simply 'perform' for the reward
7. I perpetuate the milenial culture of entitlement ("what's in it for me?")
8. I'm sending them the message that they are not capable of good behaviour without bribery
9. I'm sending the message that all good behaviour is extrinsically rewarded - untrue

The argument was made that since my salary is my reward as an employee, bribes and rewards offer the same incentive for kids.  I have no problems with paying our kids to do work that is above and beyond what we expect of them.  They have limited opportunity to earn money at this age after all.  Plus I'd like to think that I'm not a slave owner.  However, my kids are not my employees.  None of us are paid to be decent people or contribute to our family -- we love and help each other because it's what we expect and need of each other.  It's not the same as my employment because that is a contract I have with my employer -- services in exchange for a negotiated salary. Plus my occupation is more than a job -- it's something that matters to me.  From a FB comment I read tonight:  "Your work is something that you create and see through, start to finish. Because you want to. And, aside of the money, it brings joy and ease to the world."  Not sure I'm bringing joy to the world exactly, but I know that I am not motivated by the money.  I work hard because I am a hard worker.  Well maybe not all the time ...  But I feel quite strongly about not using bribes to parent my our kids.  Let's hope I'm right on this one.


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