Sunday, February 27, 2011

Punishing Our Soldiers

.Paula R. Stern
A Soldier's Mother
24 February '11

(Very moving! Y.)

As parents, we know that discipline is necessary to build a child's sense of responsibility, of independence, of maturity. Sometimes, to make sure a child behaves correctly, punishment is needed. I won't get into the debate of what constitutes punishment and what goes beyond - but rather, I'll tell you a story I heard for the first time today.

As we were driving home from the doctor (confirming that Davidi has managed to break his big toe while playing basketball), Elie and I were discussing his younger sister. He feels she needs to be punished more, that I am spoiling her and letting her take advantage too much. This week, I did punish her for coming home late and not listening. She wasn't allowed to go to friends; though I did let her have friends come over. Elie feels this is too common a punishment and she isn't going to learn from it.

Soon, I began hearing Elie's understanding of what punishment is, what it is meant to accomplish, when it is effective, and when it is not. It is interesting as a parent, to listen to your child speak of punishing others. In a normal world, your children only reach the age where they punish others long after they have become parents themselves and here, at the age of 21 and 22, was my son, holding this responsibility in his hands.

Elie then began telling me a story I had never heard. He explained that at one point during his serving as a commander (of other commanders), there was a soldier who kept doing what he wanted and his commanding officers kept punishing him. K., Elie's battalion commander (Mem-Pay) was aware of the situation and told the commanding officers, "Stop punishing him. It isn't working." He then came up with his own punishment, which was effective because it was geared to the soldier and the situation. All the other punishments given by the commanding officers were standard, expected, and didn't really bother this soldier.

(Read full "Punishing Our Soldiers")

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