“This is going to hurt me a lot more than you!”
How many of us, of a certain age, heard that dreaded declaration from our parents as we were about to be throttled?
Yesterday, while having coffee with some of my teacher friends we started talking about the types of discipline we experienced as children, and what we delivered as parents, ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of beating our children or inflicting such physical pain that it might cause harm. But as each of us recounted out own experiences growing up we decided that our (close your ears) spanking didn’t cause us any permanent damage. We did agree, however, that we were glad the days of corporal punishment were over.
When I look around and see the disrespect and callous disregard for authority from some children, I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t created a monster in the name of modern parenting.
Mom is not always at the door when the kids get home from school, and dad may not be around at all. What we recognized as a family unit fifty years ago has dramatically changed. All too often children are left to their own devices and mimic role models that are far from exemplary when it comes to social behavior.
As a teacher, I found that children crave attention, and they will it even if it’s in a negative way. If I started out the year, with my students, in a firm no nonsense approach— making my rules clear, the year went a lot smother. I always found, I could lighten up, later on, when they (my students) knew me, and what was expected of them, and the consequences, if they didn’t follow my rules.
Believe me, I tried all the techniques that came down the proverbial “teacher improvement highway.” And if you’ve ever been in the profession (teaching) you know what I’m talking about.
Assertive Disciple, Boys Town, yadda… yadda… yadda…I tried it all!
What worked best for me, however, was consistency and common sense when it came to discipline in the classroom and at home. At home was much harder.
I often told my kids, “I’m not your friend…I have a lot of friends, and didn’t need any more friends. I’m your parent.”
I wasn’t going to party with them, or look the other way when I knew they weren’t really going to end up where they so innocently said they were. The truth would come out sooner or later. I just had to be patient. It was amusing to see their shocked faces, and slack jawed expression when I found out the real score about the party at so-and-so’s house the night before.
Really…did they think I wouldn’t find out? The Teacher Gestapo runs long and deep! The little darlings couldn’t keep a secret if their lives depended on it…especially during my, feel free to express yourself, art class.
When you’re a teacher, you see it all in the way of parenting, and the results it has on children. Too much discipline and restriction will certainly result in rebellion— over indulgence, leniency, and unaccountability will give you an entitled, ungrateful and disrespectful child and student.
I did find that grounding my kids also grounded me. Rather than dish out weeks or months of “house arrest” it was better to be swift, and make it hurt where it counted…I could be very creative.
Now, when my daughter disciplines her children, I just smile, and she knows exactly what I’m thinking.
Getting back to my initial statement, “This is going to hurt me a lot more than you” business… I didn’t say that to my kids, but I do understand it, now.
It did hurt when I had to discipline my children. It would have been much easier to give in or look the other way, but deep down I knew it would save a whole lot of hurt, for them, in the future.
PS, couldn’t resist this one since I had an Italian Mom.
Images from the internet