Thanks to all who commented on my parenting post. To respond to some of the points of those who commented, both here and in the original discussion over at Danielle Bean's site...
I am sure that Dr. Ray is a great guy. I did not mean to imply that he is a bad parent or a bad Catholic. From what I know of his beliefs, I think that his understanding of the human person and child development is not entirely in keeping with the Catholic faith. But I know lots of parents who spank and are otherwise not very "AP", and are still good parents and good Catholics. I just think they aren't living the fullness of what Catholic parenting should be. (Not that I don't often fall very, very short.) Dr. Ray sounds a lot like Dr. Dobson - and the Catholic way to parent should be different from the Protestant way, because we have an entirely different view of the human person.
Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Really, it is not! My child does not run wild. We explain to him why he needs to do certain things instead of just ordering him to do it, and let him make the choice. Just an example, tonight we went out for ice cream. One of Samuel's friends was there and got 2 scoops. Well, of course Samuel wanted 2 scoops. Rather than just telling him no, which would have made him upset, I helped him make the decision for himself. I reminded him that he barely finished his one scoop last time, and asked him if he thought 2 scoops would be a good idea. He thought about it and decided that one scoop was sufficient, and happily ordered his chocolate cone. No tantrum, no argument, just a five-year-old making a good choice. Now, if he had still wanted 2 scoops, I would have let him have it, because if you're going to make it the child's choice, you have to mean it. (In which case, we would have discussed wastefulness when he failed to finish the cone, or he would have experienced some rather unpleasant natural consequences if he managed to cram it all in.) Just to clarify, I do not let Samuel choose every little detail of our lives. Some things he just has to do. But I believe he is much more cooperative at those times because I do let him have as much control over his own life as I can. Because I am willing to work with him, he is more willing to work with me.
A common response to this sort of talk is, "Well, I'm glad that works for your child, but it would never work for my child." If that is your reaction, I would encourage you to give it a shot. Your child may surprise you. Children are so much more capable than we give them credit for. Although I would guess that there might be a brief transition period where your child might run a little wild with their newfound freedom of choice until a new trust is established between you. Kind of like "deschooling" when embarking on an unschooling lifestyle. Someone (I can't remember who! Sorry!) once said that you can't really dabble in unschooling, that it has to be a way of life. I think that the same can be said for the attachment parenting/gentle discipline lifestyle - trying it for a day or a week won't really tell you if it works. You have to really do it for a longer period of time until it is a way of life to really see the difference.
Another common response is simply that we all do what works for us, and as long as it works, it's fine. This kind of relativism is very disturbing to me. I don't think that there are many (if any) actual moral relativists in the world (if you find one, ask them if it's okay if you punch them in the nose), but that's what that type of statement suggests. As Catholics, we do believe in moral absolutes, and morality is all about how we treat people - including children. Who ever came up with this idea that children should be subjected to treatment that no one would inflict upon an adult? The next time you need your child to do something - or stop doing something - think of how you would handle the situation if instead of a child, it was another adult. Of course children are not adults, but many of the same principles apply. If you want your child to grow up to be a healthy adult, start treating him more like one! I don't know any adults who would improve their behavior and be more likely to cooperate after being hit, belittled, or told "because I said so". I know I certainly wouldn't. The Golden Rule applies to parenting, too.
With that, I had better get to bed! I'd love to hear what others have to say on this, as it is one of my favorite topics. (As you can you tell!)