Thursday, September 16, 2010

Harlem Zone & Baby College

Chapter 3 of Paul Tough's book Whatever It Takes focuses on a major part of the Harlem Children's Zone organization known as "Baby College," a program for recent parents and expecting parents. A key mission of Baby College is "to figure out what advice and support to give these parents so that their children would have a better chance at success."

One of the most difficult sessions for parents and instructors for Baby College occurs during discussions of punishment and discipline. Baby College instructors view punishment as "anything physical, from hitting to spanking to shouting to shaking, and all of it, they believed, was the wrong approach." By contrast, they preferred discipline: "a consistent, coherent system of rules that was enforced through talking."

Why do the instructors' views of punishment and discipline create so much tension, and why--and please, no inconsiderate remarks--might support for punishment be so pervasive among so many of the parents enrolled in Baby College?

Or, let's consider a question raised by one of the parents in Baby College: "Why is it so hard for us to get information that will take us to the next level of society?" she asked. What do you think; why is it so hard for them to get that necessary information?

Related posts:
Harlem Zone, Vision, & Disparity
Harlem Zone, Poverty, & Skills


Alaina W. said...

The instructors at Baby College are really trying to take a new approach to parenting including the area of "punishment". Instructors tried to share with the parents the idea that any physical punishment such as spanking your child is actually a form of abuse. Many of the parents enrolled in baby college had a hard time understanding how "talking" to their child about their behavior rather than spanking them would prevent the child from engaging in repeated bad behavior. This is mostly due to the fact that the majority of the parents at Baby College probably received spankings as children and they have adopted those same methods/beliefs of parenting(children will be discouraged from misbehavior if u spank them).

Douglas Timm said...

I actually think a great exam of this is just how Victor responds to the idea of his B.A.E. not a successful idea. Victor, as were many of the other parents in Baby College, had to fight there way off the streets. Their parents disciplined them by spanking them, hitting them, etc. But, the is a new age where research has shown that the physical abuse may damage a child. However,the parents believed that the physical punishment worked for them so why not for their kids?. They don't understand that time shave changed and there are no laws preventing such ways of punishment. Even if the B.A.E. is only a pinch, its a pinch more than what is allowed.

And i believe that it is much harder for them to gain the necessary information because they are in a very low social class and they really don't have the money to afford proper child care. They also are thought of as bad parents to begin with based on their financial needs and their race. I think it is terrible to judge somebody's parenting ability on how much money they earn and their race. It sickens me that this occurred not even 20 years ago.

Daniel Shields said...

The instructors views on discipline created a lot of tension because parents, especially parents of color usually view spanking and whippings as a good form of punishment. Parents don't like for people to judge their way of chastisement.

All of my life in my family I have heard the quote " I am whopping you so "they" wont." They, meaning the police and outside authority figures. I do believe that for the most part when parents spank their children they are doing it out of love, and I personally see nothing wrong with that.

It is hard for parents to accept or even hear that the form of discipline that they give to their children, passed from generation to generation might not be right.I know from first hand experience that Black parents do not like being told how to raise their kids.

Clifford Rush III said...

The instructions of the baby college and the parents are probably from the same generation where their parents spanked them with belts, spoons, etc. The instructors are trying to break that mold of spanking while the parents still believe that is the way to do it. So, being told that the way of raising your child would cause tension. Although their should be a understanding that their backgrounds might not be that different.

I would agree though with the parents viewpoint. The spanking of a child would discourage most children from repeating the action. I hope the parents also know that this might not work for their child. Taking away the TV, video games, etc would probably be more like hitting child with a sledgehammer.

The information they seek is hard to get because of their financial status. I have seen plenty of parents who are not wealthy by any means but they were some of the best parents you could think of. Parenting is more then providing housing, clothing, food. Its being a role model, mentor, unconditional love, encourager, etc. People that are very wealthy could be blinded by the money and try to buy the child. They might not be the best parent though.

Be consistent!

Wesley Sloan said...

I think an important factor in how people discipline their kids involves human nature. In past cultures and even today it's always been survival of the fittest and whoever has the greater power rules. One of the easiest way to generate that power is through violence or control and I think that that idea has traditionally followed us up to today when it comes to disciplining children. It's a very common situation where parents feel like they have no control over their child and that the only way to control them is the way that has worked for generations involving physicality.

It's tough to say at this point whether or not verbal or physical discipline is the way to go but i feel like culturally we're moving towards communication as the main discipline. But i think it hasn't taken full grasp yet because it seems easier and is human nature to believe that power/control through violence is the way to go. For the parents at Baby College and all across the world, there is most likely a tradition or generations of physical punishment. A disciplining technique that was used on them, when they were children, is possibly why a majority use it on their own children.

TaNeal Walls said...

I enjoyed this chapter because not only did it show the different ideas about punishment and what one believes is acceptable and what is not, but reality hit when Canada realized that the people in the inner city were not nearly as equipped with the schooling on the "right" methods of raising their children.

He himself got to experience two complete opposite ways of raising children. Canada's youngest son was more fortunate and blessed due to the parenting he had, versus his older sibling. This was in part due to the different environment and education but majority due to the healthier parental techniques that Canada had acquired.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as blessed to have the higher quality things, and the result of that is clearly exemplified throughout the chapter.

Catalina Trevino said...

The instructor's views of punishment and discipline create so much tension because not physically punishing a child is unheard of to most people. In the past, physical abuse was very common, even school teachers were allowed to do so. As a child, my mother would spank or hit me and would compare it to her childhood. She would always say, "you don't have it so bad, imagine being me", and would go on telling me how much worse her spankings were than mine. Going about other way's of discipline takes work and patience. Many people attending this baby college are in poverty or close to it. Most likely they would not have the time to work with their children and discipline them by talking about it repeatedly. Spanking is just an easier and faster way to show children who is boss and what they have done was wrong.

Chris Stewart said...

The staff's ideas on punishment crated tension because most of the parents were raised through punishmnent when they did something wrong. When you are told that the way you were raised is wrong and you should do differently, you instinctively question it because you want the best for your kids. Also, some parents may take this as them saying that children raised through punishment do not turn out as well and take it personal because of their childhood.

Christine Vu said...

The parents of the children who attend Baby College are told to implement ways of communication to their children when their child is doing wrong, rather than to use physical contact to teach their children. I think that the new parenting method is only relative to each individual child because different children have different personalities who react a certain way in the same circumstance.

It can be perceived a challenge for these parents to change their ways of parenting based on their years as children, where their generation use to be spanked. I can understand that the more we discipline our children, the better they reach success. This is probably a method that had worked for them, but getting information that will take them to the next level of society is hard because that is the way that they only know how to.

Hayoung Yu said...

The instructors try to take a different approach to punishment at Baby College. I believe that the parents of the children feel that the instructors frown upon spankings because it seems violent. However these parents may feel that the physical punishments are necessary and not violent because children sometimes are not at the intellectual level to understand verbal punishments.
Spankings are used to physically show the children the consequences of bad behavior so it leaves a heavier impact. As long as these spankings are not too extreme and leave damage to the children, parents probably feel that it is necessary to convey the message to the children that bad actions are going to cause them discomfort.

Anonymous said...

When reading Chapter 3, I was in no way surprised by the support for 'punishment' among the parents. I think the reason it was such an argumentative aspect of the baby college discussion is because there's varying forms of 'punishment'.Not all parents see a quick spanking as a form of punishment moreso discipline. Also, to automatically associate this form of disciplining with child abuse is a an extreme
Many of the parents were raised with this form of discipline. In their eyes, they do not hate their parents, they just see this 'punishment' as discipline. Is there a right or wrong corrective punishment to be nationally used? I honestly do not know. Not all children that have received spankings as a child, have a void between their parents. Not all children that received verbal discipline are receptive to their parents.
-Cassaundra Sampson

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between punishing your child and disciplining them. When the parents at Baby College were told that their form of discipline was really punishment, it went against everything they knew. It could almost be seen as an insult because they were being told that their parenting style was wrong.

Going as far as to call their discipline child abuse, I feel, is a stretch. Parents spank kids to teach them what is wrong so they won't get into trouble. Yes it is possible that spanking can be taken to the level of abuse, but that's not always the case. They even included poking and tapping in their definition of abuse, which I think sounds a little ridiculous.

Many of the parents were raised with spankings so that is the way they are used to giving discipline. It's almost like tradition and old habits die hard. There are indeed nonphysical ways of disciplining a child, but I think spanking can work too.
- Tia Spiller

N.L.W. said...

Nia Williams.
I agree with Alaina W. and a majority of the other bloggers,the views of punishment and discipline created so much tension because most of the parents enrolled in the school were "punished" through physical means themselves and may think that doing the same to their children may work as well. Simply talking to their children was hard for many of the parents to rap their heads around as well because some of them didn't think a simple talk would work.A majority of the parents were punished through different forms of hitting and didn't really see it as wrong. Many of them saw it as their parents doing what had to be done, and for those missing fathers saw it their mothers trying to take the place of their father or what they think their father may have done if he were present in their lives.And as Cassandra Sampson said "Is there a right or wrong corrective punishment to be nationally used? I honestly do not know. Not all children that have received spankings as a child, have a void between their parents. Not all children that received verbal discipline are receptive to their parents."
I totally agree.

J. Tanulanond said...

The instructors' views of punishment and discipline create so much tension because a lot of the parents that were a part of the Baby College were victims of this punishment, or what I would call abuse, themselves. They create a distinct difference between punishment and discipline but the many of the parents find it hard to believe that the discipline would work as opposed to the punishment. I think that this is very understandable coming from the parents because they would feel as if they grew up well because of the way they were 'disciplined' (what the instructors would call punishment). I also believe that many parents find it as a much more effective way of disciplining their children because children are probably more susceptible to remember to not do something bad because they'd get whooped rather than to not do it because they'd get 'enforced through talking'.

Tyann Senaldi said...

Being a teenage parent, I know that sometimes it is difficult to just walk away. I feel as though maybe, as teenagers, we let our emotions get the best of us without really thinking about the consequences of actions and how those actions affect our young children, presently and in the future.

Punishment and discipline create so much tension because I think every parent feels that they did "better than their parents" but sometimes it's not enough. Just because my parents have done wrong with discipline doesn't mean that I can go one notch better and consider that good parenting.

I also feel that young parents may be getting all the information they need, but they don't always follow advice. For instance, they say a teenager is less likely to take prenatal vitamins although she knows it is best for her baby.

Abagail Thompson said...

The views of the Baby College regarding disciplince created a huge whirlwind among the parents. Spanking, or physically punishing your child, is one of the oldest forms of discipline. Even in the Bible it says that if you spare the rod,you spoil the child. (Proverbs 13:24)
Many of the parents probably grew up with this belief, and this practice. Being told a completely different way to raise your child is not the most settling thing. It's like if you learned that you should only drive your car in the street, and someone else is saying that your methodology is incorrect and you should drive on the sidewalk, it switches things up a bit. Talking is a very nice method to correcting your kids, and re-directing them, but sometimes a harsher discipline is what wil really change their ways.

mercedes pineda said...

The instructor's views of punishment and discipline create so much tension because those views are directly opposite of what they think. These parents enrolled in Baby College have grown up believing punishment is discipline. They have grown up seeing punishment used as discipline.
It can be difficult for some of the parents to change their own views because they have grown up believing that certain view for a while. Also, some of the parents do not want to admit to the instructors and to others that their parents were abusive. Some will be okay with admitting that. But others will have difficult time because they thought it was normal.
This lesson of punishment and discipline may also be difficult because it may be hard to believe. It may be hard to see another way of discipline because they have only see one method for so long. Also, some parents may have grown up in violence. Then, because they have seen violence that may motivate them to choose a different way of discipline.

Anonymous said...

The instructores at Baby College encouraged disciplining children as a way to correct inaappropriate behavior mostly because they have not been exposed to the other ways that we now know that can also be a means of correcting a child's behavior. Of course the parents would take this offensive because they too are only familiar with disciplining children and no one wants to be told how to raise their child. Aside from disciplining a child physically, there is also giving a child rewards/incentives for good encourage good behavior. There is ofcourse talking to the child and the combination of strategies. But the point of the matter is, these various approaches were not necessarily known or accepted by people as they are now so the parents in Baby College and in that day period would ofcourse be less inclined to change their regular habits.

Cassandra Smith