Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking about the difference in kids who are reared with boundaries and consequences, who are very different from those whose parents either don’t understand, or think they need to be their children’s best friend, or who are strung out on drugs or alcohol, or work, or whatever comes ahead of the work of rearing children.
Kids who are reared with discipline are respectful, content, happy, and open. They are open to adults, being comfortable in the presence of adults; and they do not try to dominate a conversation going on among adults. They are not picky, fussy eaters. They don’t throw tantrums in the grocery store or, after a certain age, at home. They are delightful to be with, responding well to a gentle admonishment when it’s needed. Their parents have worked hard, never doubt it for a moment. Rearing a contented child is a lot of work, especially if the child is endowed with a strong will and a strong mind. Then it’s a 24/7 marathon of hard work. But the payoff is wonderful. That strong-willed child will grow up to be a leader if his energies are directed well.
On the other hand, we’ve all come fact to face with small tyrants who truly believe the universe is theirs; that everything should and does revolve around them. They are closed to anything but their own wants. They don’t really have any needs, because every single thing they think they need is provided to them with great diligence by their obedient parents. These kids are disrespectful, demanding, sassy, and generally miserably unhappy. Nothing pleases them for very long. The get bored quickly, and will turn the house upside down until their demands are met. They are angry, and will eventually have no hesitation in striking out verbally and physically with any parent or other authority figure who gets in their way. They have no understanding that there are boundaries they are not to cross. They hate being told NO, and will find some way to sneak, or openly defy, to get what they want. Some of them become sly and manipulative, knowing how to make it look as if they are obedient when the truth is just the opposite. Often, their parents are in complete denial, insisting that “MY child would never do THAT!”
How do I come to all these conclusions? Well, I’ve worked with kids in some way most of my life. Then I had four of my own. Then I taught for several years. And now I’m working with parents who are heartbroken, crushed, and totally unable to figure what happened that turned their beloved child into a monster.
Childrearing in America has become a challenge. Parents are afraid to apply the board of education to the seat of learning lest they lose that child to the control of whatever child protective agency interferes in their home. The idea of community-based child-rearing is resulting in organized everything for our kids. Parents are losing control, and for the last thirty or forty years parents have been told by child-rearing gurus that all the old ways are wrong, wrong, wrong. Children must feel good about themselves. NEVER show anger with a child, or you will destroy his ego. Ad nauseum.
You’d better believe my kids saw anger when they’d deliberately gone against specific instructions.
Is it possible to love a kid who has just flagrantly disobeyed? Of course. It is also possible for him to see that his behavior has made you very unhappy with him, but that relationship can be restored when discipline has been established and, very important, the child has given a sincere “I’m sorry,” and has been forgiven.
Wow. This one pushed a button with me. I don’t typically write long posts like this. So I’ll stop now.
P.S. I am fully aware that there are many points where arguments can be made, pro and con, to what I’ve said here. It’s a generalization, with different applications for different situations. And oh dear, I just realized I’ve fallen into a stereotypical trap. It could just as easily have been a picture of an angry girl, a happy boy. It wasn’t done intentionally.