You don’t have to beat your kids, but you do have to do something…
Sierra Vista Safeway Register 3
21:30 08 April, 2007
“Mommy, buy this!” as a child of 8 or 9 years grabs a candy bar and puts it with Mom’s groceries.
“No, put that back or you’ll get in trouble!” says Mom immediately returning to her conversation with her friend who also has a child present of roughly the same age.
The first child looks at her for about 1/10th of a second, determines that she won’t do a thing to him and leaves the candy on the belt. The second child sees this and promptly does the exact same thing: ”Mommy, buy this!” grabs and puts candy into his Mom’s basket. He gets the same verbal warning followed by the same lack of follow-up.
End result? Both kids got their candy and learned that both of their Mothers are irrelevant. They followed this up with an accelerating array of bad behaviors which grew in scope and volume for the next 5 minutes. By the time both moms were leaving the store they had drawn the disgusted stares of most of the rest of the customers and clerks as their 2 kids were orbiting them, screaming, bumping into other people, and knocking impulse items from racks and displays. Neither Mom did a thing. Nice… I bet that will work out really well for all involved.
Of course this is far from being an uncommon occurrence today or even 20 years ago whether in Sierra Vista, Az or back home in Lincoln, MN when my nieces and nephews came to visit. Just seeing the to boys misbehaving brought me right back to the only one of my sister’s kids that I actually like: Bomber.
Bomber is not his given name naturally (that would be Christopher), but it is the name that he earned by being loud, obnoxious, and misbehaving from the moment he woke up (like a Bomb) and continues to use to this day even when corresponding. He signed his latest card to me with “Bomber” written at the bottom using his personal and beautiful style of penmanship (truly it is a thing of calligraphic art). Where did this latest missive originate from? Prison.
Chris has spent most of his adult life in prison and that trend is unlikely to ever change. He knows it and I know it. He knows why too. He has absolutely no respect for authority figures. None at all.
He and I discussed this at some length when I came back after 4 years in Korea. On the way down to Ft. Hood I stopped at his home in Minneapolis where he lived with his girlfriend and their child. His girlfriend had stayed with him throughout his recent incarceration for dealing Methamphetamines and they were going to try and make a go of it in the “straight life” (Chris was and is extensively involved with gang activity).
“You remember how my mom never did anything to me?” he asked over a beer.
“Are you fucking kidding me? I hated it every time you guys would come and visit! It was like living with animals. Animals on drugs more like.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that man but I was just a kid. Anyways, I always thought that no one would ever do anything to me no matter what as long as I pushed ‘em around. Mom never did anything, the school never did anything, the cops always just made mom come get me until I was 18… I thought it would go on forever.”
In point of fact it went on for a long time. Chris lived the “Thug life” and lived it pretty well for a couple of years. He didn’t finish high school and was selling drugs full-time before he was 17. This ended up giving him a good apartment, lots of girls, and many nice vehicles. Cash flowed and he had lots of “friends”.
It didn’t last forever though and once he started using Meth in addition to selling it the end came swiftly. He was caught with huge amounts of it in his truck and went to prison. He opted for one of Minnesota’s many progressive rehab programs along with a “boot camp” that shaved more than a year off of his first prison term.
Less than 18 months after release he was busted again. Frankly by this point I stopped paying the situation much attention because it pained me to see his life being wasted. It still does. I need to write the guy in prison but I put it off every day because it makes me angry.
I am angry with Chris because as an adult he had choices and chose his lifestyle. I am just as angry with my sister because I knew Chris would end up in prison when I was about 10 or 11. It was obvious to anyone who saw her children that they were largely ruined by her utter refusal to discipline any of them. Her life was all about her and the kids only distracted her from that.
By the time she had matured to some degree it was too late. Her oldest daughter is basically “shell-shocked” from trying to be the parent to her 2 younger siblings since she was old enough to know that Mom wouldn’t do it. Bomber is in prison and my youngest niece had her first child at 14 and is heavily into drugs.
The real irony? My sister works in a re-hab clinic.
Well done sis. I sure hope the loser biker was worth ignoring your kids for 20 years.
The sidebar for this would be that before I had a daughter I was convinced that I would not be a spanking parent. My mom didn’t spank me and she forbade my father from doing so either. The difference between my mother and me or my sister is that mom is and educator and has about 8 million ways to get and hold the attention of even a toddler. It is a gift that I do not possess.
Let me make this clear for the hard of thinking: I know you do not have to spank your kids to discipline them. I am just not good enough to risk not using spanking as a tool. Your mileage may vary.
When our daughter arrived it became apparent that as a toddler we were not capable of making her understand why she shouldn’t do things by any other means than a tap on the butt. The tap got the point through immediately and consistently. So we became spanking parents for a few years.
Strangely after a few years the spanking had the strange effect of making spanking unnecessary. She became conditioned to the tone of voice we would use prior to a spanking and immediately stop what she was doing and look at us. Then we would explain why she shouldn’t. The explanations were accepted because the consequences of disregarding them had been demonstrated before and were applied consistently.
Any misgivings we might have had about how we were doing as parents were blown away when we became friends with Stan and Tracy. They had 2 older boys and used the same discipline system that my sister did: none. They would threaten and yell and ultimately do nothing. Their kids were horrible.
At age 8 they were still spreading newspaper under the kids chairs because they hadn’t even learned to eat without slopping food everywhere. The boys openly defied their parents and putting them to bed was a 4 hour ordeal every night that the kids always won until they met us.
I had absolutely no problem spanking their kids too. Stan not only allowed this but encouraged it as it actually would restore peace to their house while we were there. Their kids adored us because they were dying for some sort of order and structure in their life. Stan and Tracy invited us over more and more as time went on to socialize but more importantly: to put their children to bed for them.
I don’t know whatever became of Stan and Tracy’s kids but I doubt that it was good. While Stan and Tracy liked the effect we had on their children they never showed the slightest sign of doing any of it themselves. I could be wrong but I fear that I am not.
If your control of your children doesn’t even extend to eating or bedtime it is unlikely that those kids will ever be able to succeed at anything to include staying out of prison.