Don’t you just love it when parents these days reprimand their wayward children gently with phrases like, “Oh, Johnny, that was a bad choice.” Or “Now, now, Susie, Mommy wants you to make a better choice.”
Why can’t we just say, “Hey! Bonehead! That was wrong. Don’t do it again or we’ll beat you like a pinata.”
I’ll tell you why we can’t – Lawyers.
Lawyers, and ‘do-gooders’ who are afraid that smacking a kid upside the head when they screw up every now and again will cause irreparable damage. They don’t grasp that it was the old-style…the good old-fashioned Italian, Jewish, Hispanic, or German hardcore Mothers and Grandmothers…that were actually responsible for instilling a healthy fear of screwing up and doing bad things in life for kids. Back in the day, fear was a culturally accepted form of behavioral modification…much cheaper than counseling, and more energy-efficient than shock therapy.
I have to put this caveat in: I DO NOT CONDONE CHILD ABUSE, AND I DO NOT BEAT MY CHILDREN SO DO NOT REPORT THIS POST TO CHILDREN’S SERVICES. Thank you.
I get so wound around the axle when I hear moms or dads in the grocery store telling little johnny that he cannot have that bag of M&M’s he’s currently opening in the check out line. And then when he sprays the contents of that bag all over kingdom come during his little temper tantrum, all he gets is a “Johnny, that was a bad choice… now stop throwing the other candy around the store…stop it Johnny…do you want a time out, Honey? Do you?…..”
Do you know what would have happened to me if I had pulled that crap? A swift kick in the behind…and I promise you I have not sprayed M&Ms in check out lines since I was 4 years old.
And I still swear that was an accident.
How about this one…. if a kid today asks if he can have a toy when he’s dragged along to go shopping with mama, oftentimes his mama will say, “Yes! If you behave!” What would have happened when we were kids? I can see it now. My mother or father would have been incredulous, before they told me “Sure, Pam, I’ll give you treat! I’ll let you live to tomorrow, you little ungrateful, selfish bastard.” (Ok, maybe my mom wouldn’t have said bastard, but she would have thought it.) The point is, we learned not to ask for these things. We learned the concept of hard work and the value of a buck.
And it was good and right. It put materialism lower down on the totem pole. And a healthy fear for authority in our hearts.
My kids are in a quandary. Some of their friend’s parents have the “Oh Johnny, that was a bad choice” philosophy of raising kids. Their parents are so much easier on them, so much more wishy washy in their boundaries. So every now and again, I’ll hear a “But So-and-So’s mom lets her!” or “But So-and-So’s Dad says its ok” from one of my kids if they are not pleased with an answer I give to one of their requests.
You know what I like to say when they pull that out? I say “Well So-and-So’s parent’s don’t love them as much as I love you, and So-and-So will probably end up in jail before they are 30. And Poor. And Alone. And Hungry. And Naked. But since I give you firm boundaries, you will likely be the President of the United States. Unless we are annexed by China by then. ”
I’m subtle and diplomatic like that.
By the way, if you are the mother of So-and-So, I am not sorry. You had it coming for making my own parenting experience a bigger pain in the ass.
Boundaries: Give them to your child so my life can get easier.