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Lessons from My Mother-in-Law: A Story About Discipline

by Janet Gonzalez-Mena
January/February 1997
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/lessons-from-my-mother-in-law-a-story-about-discipline/5011344/

Discipline is culturally bound. Looking across cultures can be very helpful in examining my approaches to discipline. Luckily I've had some opportunities to do that over the years. "Your children aren't like ours," an African-American mother once told me in anguish when I was trying to discuss discipline methods with her. "Your ways don't work with our children - you're too wishy washy and soft, sweet even." I resisted that message. I don't remember what I said to her, but it was probably also wishy washy and soft. It's still hard for me to accept her criticism, but with 15 years of conflicts with my mother-in-law over discipline matters, I've finally begun to open my eyes a little. I got my best lessons in "celebrating diversity" from my mother-in-law, though they came hard. She and I came from very different backgrounds and seldom saw eye to eye. Our hottest arguments were about disciplining children. We were quite critical of each other. My mother-in-law was appalled that I didn't watch my children closer and correct them more often. She was the opposite of me. She always kept an eagle eye out and was ever ready to pounce at any sign of the slightest misbehavior. I saw her ...

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