Tuesday, March 09, 2010
On Parental Discipline
I run a tight ship here in the C-Nut household. I'm sure they're out there, but I've yet to meet a stricter parent.
First, the basics. In general, women do not discipline kids. Furthermore, wealthy people, especially the *moms*, who get married later in life, are even less disposed to *saying NO*, *spanking*, and following through on *threats*. Individual kids learn this....long before the alphabet!
Out at the park, the library, and in my social circles I see some serious brats - corrigible brats born purely of negligent parents.
But whatever. These little miscreants aren't my problem. People have different life circumstances - *dad* might be a traveling ghost, there could be health issues, e.g. I know a particularly lax *mom* who survived cancer, maybe a soft *dad* is over-reacting to his own tyrannical parentage, etc. - who am I to judge?
So I'll just talk about what I do.
As kids age, they are continually forging new territory, continually pushing boundaries. At some point early on they riddle - what happens if I DON'T do what *mom* or *dad* said? Later - what if I don't tell them the truth? What if I borrow the car without asking? Etc.
All this is completely natural - but that doesn't mean it's to be tolerated.
As my kids ramp up their *exploratory conduct*, as a responsible parent I too ramp up the punishment.
Before it was *up in your room for five minutes* - you know, the room with a color TV and 6 million toys.
But now I make them sit on the cold floor of a darkened bathroom for 20 minutes when they cross me. And I expect it one day soon to be an *hour*.
I don't permit my kids to sit next to each other when they eat - too much goofing around. And now, I often ban them completely from *talking* at the table. One usually riles the other up....mayhem invariably results in 3 seconds flat. Making individualized made-to-order meals is stressful enough for a parent - I don't need to be suffering through the ordeal amidst a screaming, teasing, fighting backdrop of starving brats.
Furthermore, I don't even allow *crying*. Some of these little buggers whine and cry their faces off - but not mine. If I hear a peep out of them that's not justified by a genuine physical incident....then I give them a physical incident to cry over!
It's absolutely amazing how much more my kids b1tch and moan to my wife than they do when I'm watching them. Essentially, it amounts to an unhealthy, *two different sets of rules*. My wife bleats what most in her position bleat, "I don't want to come home from work and have to punish..." (Except she's the same on weekends!)
I'm really big on *listening*. If I tell the Prince or the Princess to do something and they defy me....there are going to be serious consequences. I was at a park today with someone who threatened their brat with *leaving* no less than 25 times. With such a spotty record on *follow through*, would he or would he not have to be an absolute Moron to take anything his mother ever said seriously?
The two things I'm craziest about are *slamming doors* (our nephew lost a pinky horsing around with doors) and behavior in the vicinity of *cars*. I don't sometimes allow my kids to run across the parking lot as less psychotic parents might - I'm strict as $hit on this. I have a well-defined procedure on how they are supposed to act getting in, getting out, or around vehicles. Any (and there are few now) deviations are dealt with most harshly.
My kids are not to interrupt. They have to say please and thank-you or they get flicked. When Mom comes home they have to settle down and greet her with *Mom, how was your day?*.
When I tell them they have to go upstairs and put their pajamas on, or get dressed in the morning - it's not optional. I go over and set the timer for 2 minutes. And I'll also utilize the timer for *math questions* or *finishing dinner*. There'll be no dessert or no park or whatever if the timer goes off before they are done.
I could write a whole lot more here on specifics but time doesn't permit.
How's it all working out?
Well, my son is generally an angel. He's old enough (5.27 years old) to understand my unblinking authority and consequences. His willful sister on the other hand....she's still a work in progress - but she's still young (only turning 4 in June).
I'm definitely an admitted lunatic on some trivial matters. Will my kids grow to resent me for the rest of their lives? After all, I know some *hard* parents whose adult children hate their guts. That's a potential fate that will scare any loving, self-sacrificing parent to death. But I'm doing the best I can here; I'm doing what I deem best for the *long run* of their lives. Plus I also happen to think that a lot of discipline early on can be built upon and recovered from. While I don't think the opposite is true at all. Some of these running-wild kids will at least lose years of their productive lives due to the child abuse of *time-outs* and *low expectations*.
The sad thing is, and this isn't merely the delusion of an avowed autocrat, the sad thing is that children genuinely respect rules and discipline, and the enforcing adults.
(For this well-to-do enclave on the South Shore anyway, parents really need to start smacking/spanking their kids. In my experience, ALMOST NONE OF THEM DO. Can you imagine? Could our ancestors imagine such an absurdity?)