Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?

Matt over at 5280Ft wrote an interesting post this morning about some kids who had defiled a cemetery and asked what a proper punishment for the miscreants would be.

To be honest, I feel that if a child is properly controlled at a young age they will not be a pain in the ass once they reach puberty. I don't have children myself, but still being pretty young I draw from my own experiences from youth - I apologize ahead of time for the long-winded-ness.

Many people are against spanking their kids, citing all kinds of books and research that point to problems inflicted on the child's psyche when they are smacked. But really, I'm not advocating the screaming-and-then-beating-your-child-within-an-inch-of-their-life method. I don't even think it's good to leave a bruise. But if you catch a child's bad behavior when they are young, you barely have to even touch them.

I remember vividly getting spanked when I was really young after me and my brother had a fight. And that's the only time I ever remember being spanke
d by my parents. And you know what? I wasn't scarred by it. I don't even remember it hurting. I just remember the disappointed look on my parents' faces before hearing the "this is going to hurt me more than you" speech. And from then on, threats of "am I going to have to take you to the bathroom?" immediately shut me up in a restaurant or grocery store.

Then as children get older, spanking is of no use, so you move on to removal of precious objects. Video games, television, and the telephone were like gods in our house. Remove them, and we were subject to a boring hell known as "being grounded." And these were no idle threats. Try and use the phone, and mom was liable to come in your room and rip the jack right out of the wall. Try to watch tv, and she would just cut the cable line to your room. And oh when you got a car - what a leverage point that was for her! She would threaten to sell that sucker th
e minute I threw one of my patented drama queen fits.

Oh yeah - did I mention my parents were divorced, and I had a single mom working two jobs to send me and my brother to a good school? So none of this, "well little Billy had it hard growing up because he never had a daddy around"
BS. My mother (all five foot of her) could have slapped me and my brother into next Tuesday, and that was what kept us from acting stupid. And although I can't vouch for my brother, who in adulthood has had to learn some things the hard way, I can still feel the gentle prodding and encouragement of my mother in my life. There were even times in my college life that I could hear the soft "Don't do that" and the morning after hangover screaming "I told you not to do that, dummy!" all in the gentle, yet strong voice of my mother.

I think the main problem is parents wanting to be their kid's best friend. That's just not the way it's supposed to work. Kids are supposed to think they know everything. I vividly remember writing "I hate mom! Ugh, she is so unfair!" about a million times in my diary growing up. Frankly, I think it's healthy for kids to disagree with their parents. It's healthy for parents to not just give in because their kid screams "You're so stupid!! You're ruining my life!!! You're so unfair!!" Etc... etc..

Below is a graph of how my relationship with my parents has gone and will probably will continue to go as I age.
Notice the sharp dive in perceived wisdom as I hit my teenage years. But it was my entering into college and the subsequent "growing up" that I did that brought me and my mother really close. I think if she had always given in to my demands and requests as a kid I would be a snot-nosed brat who had done nothing with her life. And fat. I would probably be really fat.

Note to Self: I was going to continue with a look at parents who want the government to punish their kids for them, but I figured this post was long enough already. So, I leave that post for tomorrow in the "Who's Your Daddy? Government Edition"!


SarahM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SarahM said...

hello? is this 911? yeah,, Well my son is not getting in the house. no, no hes not kidnapped. its not like that. hes just Standing outside with this arms crossed... can you send the cops to threaten him or something? no hes not causing any harm to himself... hes causing harm to me!? doesnt that count?

Sornie said...

The modern parent will do anything they can to avoid alienating their child. I, on the other hand, have found myself disciplining the little bastards at family get-togethers because their parents won't reign them in. For me, growing up, even the threat of spanking was enough to shape me up.

Danielle said...

The threat of a spanking was usually enough to deter me from just about anything! Honestly, I can't ever remember actually getting one, but the possibility was enough to scare me off. I had the same removal of precious objects as a teenager, and I definitely thought I knew better than my folks - and now I can (usually) admit that they're right.

People complain about kids today, but I definitely think that it's parents today who are the problem. A friend of mine has two little girls that she's raising the same way we were raised - and they are the sweetest, most polite, best-behaved children I've seen in a long time. A well-timed and properly administered spanking is a very good thing.

the Grit said...

Hi MJ,

Well, my Mother and, later on, my stepfather beat the crap out of me for every imagined offense, until I grew enough to make such behavior more a hazard to them than to me. I still recall with great joy the first time my stepfather started to slap me but I managed to kick him in the balls first. While he was rolling on the floor holding his nuts, I kicked him in the head a couple of times, and informed him that next time I'd kill him. Slowly and gruesomely, so I could get off on a mental illness defense. He never lifted a hand against me again.

That same year, my sixteenth, my Mother, during a minor dispute, decided to kick me, which blow I blocked with my hip, breaking her ankle in the process. She never tried to hit me again either.

I managed, with great effort, to graduate from a minor state college and do fairly well in later professional life, despite my continuing emotional problems.

Our son, on the other hand, who was never subjected to any physical punishment, or even the hint of such, has just started his second year at a top notch law school, which he is attending on a full scholarship.

Beyond that, last time he was leaving from a visit, my son hugged me and said, "Love you Dad." The last time I saw my stepfather, my parting words were, "I hope you burn in Hell and I'm striving to find a way to torture you before you take your final journey."

In summary, I'm pretty much against the idea of hitting your child.

the Grit

pure evyl said...

It is amazing that I went from a wise man when my step-daughter was five to a pure moron when my stepdaughter was 16 to a freaking genius when she had a child of her own.

MJ said...

SM - LOL. I've heard this before...

Sornie - Exactly. A simple threat will generally do.

Danielle - Agreed.

Grit - I can understand your aversion. I certainly do not advocate beating your child (as it sounds like you were subjected to as a child). My cop's sister was subjected to quite a bit of abuse as a child, and she too still deals with the emotional issues.

The general idea I want to get across is not that beating/kicking/abusing a child is okay, but that discipline is a must as long as it is in a safe, loving manner - something akin to a slap on the wrist of a toddler. It may not hurt them, although they will cry, but it shows them that their parents are there to reign them in. When I was spanked as a child it was not the pain that averted me from bad behavior, it was the embarrassment of my parent's complete disappointment in me.

Matt said...

You know my opinion...

a little discipline goes a long way

MJ said...

Matt - I agree. It doesn't take much to make a lifetime of difference.

mJ said...

We don't spank our kids. Not because of any sense of moral issue, but really because we don't need to.

They're afraid of us, and that's all that matters. I can raise my left eyebrow at my kids in a restaurant, and they KNOW that it's time to stop.

When I was a teengager, I didn't have sex. Because I was SCARED TO DEATH of what my dad would do if I ever got pregnant. He was scary. I loved him, we talked a lot, but he still scared the shit out of me.

That's what I want for my kids. Loving scared-shitness.

MJ said...

mj (not to be confused with me) - That's perfect... loving scared-shitness. I couldn't have described the feeling better myself.

teeni said...

Awesome post! Loved it. I am in total agreement with your feelings on these things. It's like you read my mind.

MJ said...

Teeni - Mind reading is one of my specialties :D