chickenshoot (chickenshoot) wrote,


I was reading an article about a lot of kids these days having no discipline. The example being given was a young couple in a quiet cafe who let their toddler have the run of the place, darting from table to table, singing and screaming. The boy even sat down at a table of strangers and ate from a kid's plate. Meanwhile the parents and grandparents were hardly watching what happened to him. They spoke and laughed loudly about their own business as though the whole cafe was enjoying their stories, and only occasionally looked over at their golden boy---and they did so with much admiration for his "spunk."

Never saying "no" to this toddler then leads to the seven-year-old who screams/cries/pleads for 45 minutes solid as the mom leisurely finishes up her shopping at Target. It's shocking how often I'm hearing this kind of tantrum from an older kid these days, and the mom doesn't say a word to stop it. Obviously he's been told "no" to something he wanted on the shelf, but she doesn't believe in any discipline that then follows when he can't accept this. Or maybe it's too late for discipline/reasoning there in the store---she hasn't taught him how to accept the fact that he can't always have what he wants. She's screwed. We're all screwed in listening to it play out.

My parents would have spanked my legs off if I acted like either of these kids in public. I can hardly remember being spanked, but I knew I could be, and I also knew that I wouldn't be brought inside a place like that again if I acted up. If I talked loudly or wiggled in church, my mom pinched me or gave me the evil eye and/or bit her index finger (This finger could be you!!). That's called "consequence." Makes all the difference.

What also might make a huge difference is returning to that apparently oh-so-crazy notion that adults rule the world. Not the kids. Ever. It's actually GOOD for the kid to understand this fact so that they can feel secure.

I see a lot of desperate parents on their knees trying to reason and bargain with their kids, offering 8 choices of action and/or bribes of treats and promises of toys/prizes just to get them into the car or a store or away from something they can't have. Doesn't it seem like the adult/parent has lost his true role here? The kid ultimately has control of the situation because he doesn't have any respect for his parent, the adult. And the kid has usually enjoyed so much freedom previously that he's astounded by these instances where he must be reeled in. Too much freedom is now actually hurting his feelings and confusing him, and it's also left the parent floundering for a way just to get the kid to move from point A to point B.

The article I was reading had a message board below it, and this person seemed to word exactly what I'm trying to say:

[One thing I have observed is how our "informality" has lessened the respect that children show adults. When I was young, I would NEVER have called my teacher Bob or my friend's mother Suzie. It was Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones or I would have been punished for being disrespectful. I still call my best friend's mother Mrs. Jones (and I'm 50 now) out of respect, even though we have been very amicable for thirty-six years.

In addition to learning to respect adults, we learned to sit still in public (how many parents "bribe" their kids with snacks in church these days?) We never got up from our seat in a restaurant without asking permission to be excused and being accompanied by an adult to the restroom. We knew that we would be in BIG trouble if we slid to the floor, ran around the room, acted like clowns, etc. and that it would be a LONG time before we'd visit a restaurant again if we misbehaved.

We knew that homework came before playing, that caring for our pets in the morning came before our own breakfast ("because they are depending on you" was our mother's lesson); that we could pick ONE cupcake or piece of fruit and had to live with our choice (no tasting it and putting it back, or snatching at our sibling's treat); we learned not to beg.

We learned to think about the needs of others, to be considerate, to control our impulses and urges. We learned to be still and listen (quietly) to adult conversation or else be sent outside or to our rooms. We were NEVER allowed to dominate adult conversation. If grandma asked us a question, we were encouraged to politely answer. But we were not allowed to prattle and interrupt, destroying all possibility of actually LEARNING something from the adults by listening.

I would love to see more parents quietly, calmly requiring children to listen to adults, and fewer doing the modern fluctuation between over-indulging and completely ignoring their children.]

You bet, lady.

Hey, I don't have kids, so what the hell do I know? And, ok, maybe I was a little overindulged myself. Here I am as a toddler at a typical meal. Look at the size of those plates, just for me! And I think perhaps I coulda done without the crown/scepter/jewels, at least during dinner.

But I'm sure some of this overindulging was done out of pity just because I was so damned ugly. And at least I didn't turn out too spoiled, 'cause by the time I was six or seven we had to pawn the family jewels and eat out of cans like normal folks.

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