Teenage parents learn to discipline

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2000

South Point – Young Lawrence County parents got a lesson on love and discipline Thursday during a special meeting of the county GRADS program at the South Point Early Childhood Center.

Thursday, April 06, 2000

South Point – Young Lawrence County parents got a lesson on love and discipline Thursday during a special meeting of the county GRADS program at the South Point Early Childhood Center.

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Author of the program’s text "Mama, listen!" Ruth Beaglehole addressed nearly 60 Lawrence County teenage parents about the dangers of spanking and how to discipline without raising a hand or voice. Mrs. Beaglehole will give lectures to southeastern Ohio GRADS instructors and other various agency officials today and Friday, as well.

"We think it’s important for our students to learn to discipline their children in a fair way," GRADS instructor Linda Meyers said. "The GRADS program focuses on teaching good parenting skills. And the money for the project came from an Ohio Childrens Trust Fund grant. The focus of the grant is the prevention of child abuse."

Most people think child abuse involves bodily harm, but even spanking can be detrimental to a child’s self-esteem, Mrs. Beaglehole said.

"I think we have a wonderful opportunity with young parents to help them understand how we choose to raise our children is important," she said. "Young parents are so wanting to be the best parents they can be, it’s a wonderful opportunity."

Mrs. Beaglehole is the founder of the Center for Non-violent Education and Parenting where she is able to speak to many teen and adult parents, as well as agencies to increase awareness about the harmful effects of spanking.

"We’re questioning spanking because we have a lot of research," Mrs. Beaglehole said. "We now know about the effects and serious consequences of spanking. It damages the relationship between parent and child, effects school performance and is related to drug and alcohol abuse. It’s something we can’t ignore."

Although not prone to hitting a child, South Point senior Justin Lynd never realized the effects of spanking a child.

"It has been really thought-provoking," Lynd said. "The program makes you think about motivation between you and your child’s actions. I was neutral on the issue. I’m sure I probably would have before, but not readily. This makes me think I will think a little bit more before I ever touch her for disciplinary purposes."

An active father in his 7-year-old daughter’s life, Lynd came to the program because he wants to give Mackenzie every opportunity to succeed in life.

"I want Mackenzie to have the best life she’s capable of having," Lynd said. "That means education on my part and supporting Kristen (his girlfriend and child’s mother)."

Other teenage parents took the opportunity to ask Mrs. Beaglehole practical questions about their day-to-day encounters. Fairland sophomore Jamie Ratliff learned a technique called the bear hug to take home to her 22-month-old daughter.

"I learned that hitting is not good. I already knew that," Miss Ratliff said. "If the child is throwing a fit, you can restrain them by wrapping your arms around them and putting their head on your shoulder."

Miss Ratliff plans to take other techniques for discipline home with her from the program. A lot of the information Mrs. Beaglehole presented seemed practical, she said.

"She told us to stay calm, mirror their feelings, tell them why they can’t have what they want and things like that," Miss Ratliff said. "This stuff is important, even for adults. My mother doesn’t do a lot of that and I think she should learn some of it. All parents should learn it."

This program was part of the GRADS parenting education days. The GRADS program offers three special seminars a year: a parent/child involvement day, a career day and a parenting education day, instructor Joan Reed said.

The program also sends instructors to each Lawrence County school for one parenting class a week. The program is located at the Collins Career Center, Ms. Reed said.

The program is open to any teenage mother or father, she added.

"The only requirement is that they must be a high school student," Ms. Reed said.

Students are referred to the program through counselors, school nurses and other students.

The Lawrence County GRADS program has been operating since 1984. Every middle, junior high and high school in the county is served by one of the following GRADS instructors: Judy Ferguson, Linda Meyers, Joan Reed and Jan Wolfe.