Chapter 8 of Bridges discusses Discipline, Choices, and Consequences. In poverty, discipline is often about penance and forgiveness, but not change. The focus is on the present and unconditional love. As a result, instruction and changed behavior tend not to be included in the discipline. In contrast, middle class often focuses discipline on self-governance and self-control of behavior. Discipline is an informative process of why certain behaviors are undesired and how to change the undesired behaviors to desired behaviors in the future. There is a major gap between the ideas of discipline prevalent among these two classes. In order to build bridges out of poverty, people living in poverty must be educated on this gap, and how to acquire the self-governance/self-control of behavior necessary to succeed in the middle class.
Before that education can take place, it must be clear what service providers, employers, and community members can change to help the education take place. One of the many things Bridges indicates communities can change is avoiding bureaucratic language and tone.
There are three distinct voices that guide each individual. These voices are the child voice, the adult voice, and the parent voice. The child voice is characterized by victimized or emotional language as well as playful or spontaneous language. The adult voice is characterized by non-judgmental language that approaches conversations with a win-win attitude. The parent voice is characterized by authoritative or punitive language that may sometimes be perceived as threatening. Everyone should strive to speak to others in an adult voice, whether a person is in poverty or not. Using the parent voice may lead others to feel attacked or judge, and may result in them responding in the child voice. Using the child voice may allow situations to easily escalate and allow conversations only to be driven by emotion. Using the adult voice allows others to feel free of judgment and negativity, and makes them more likely to work hard to communicate openly with you.
Using the appropriate voice will greatly impact choices, discipline, and ultimately consequences. To learn more about what communities can do to guide those in poverty to more self-governance, read chapter 8 of Bridges Out of Poverty or ask an ETHNN representative.