No, not another BDSM thread. This, from Psychology Today, is about a different kind of discipline:
In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?
Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological–psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain.
The writer goes on to talk about how French parents take a more holistic approach to treating children who act up and act out, considering environmental and nutritional factors. And there’s this:
French parents have a different philosophy of disciplinine. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.” And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.
This describes exactly how I was raised, and most Southerners in my town, of my generation, were raised — with the notable exception of food consumption, which for some cultural reason was not subject to discipline. My parents were fairly strict, but not unusually so for this culture, and I recall with deep appreciation how safe the limits set, and enforced, by my folks made me feel. Ruthie and I talked about that every now and then as adults, how free we felt as children within the behavioral boundaries set by our mom and dad. I mean, we wouldn’t have described it that way as kids, but that’s exactly what it was. I can remember the times we would go over to the house of someone whose kids ran wild. It felt unsafe, like there was no one in charge, and anything could happen.
I am aware of how our culture erred in ascribing moral failure to neurological distress, e.g., seeing biochemically-caused depression as a moral phenomenon. But in some cases, we overreact. Sometimes the problem does have a moral component, and we can train the brain to respond differently to outside stimuli.
Parenting is hard. So is civilization.