History Should Be Our Teacher

Author’s Note: This post sprang from witnessing a totally out-of-control child screaming at a visibly haggard mother who simply ignored him. It was all I could do to keep from shaking the living bejesus out of the little shit, and then doing the same to his mother! How could a small child be allowed to have such control over a full-grown adult?

Like marriage, my children did not come with an Owner’s Manual. But though I didn’t realize at the time, I followed an old and very profound statement. “If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.”

If I want to see how the handling of children has changed in just a few generations all I have to do is spend a couple of hours in a K-Mart or Toy-R-Us. What parents tolerate today in their children would have been grounds for justifiable homicide just a few decades ago; an exaggeration, but a thought that has probably crossed more than one parent’s mind at least once. What has happened to the control we once had over our own children?

To any parent who has unruly children, my question is. “Would you have gotten away with the same behavior with your parents?” I am quite sure that in most cases, the answer would be a resounding, “Hell no!” Then my next question would be, “Then what did your parents do if you tried the same thing your child is doing now?” Hence, the title of this post.

The times that I blatantly did what I knew I wasn’t suppose to do, or showed disrespect to either of my parents, the punishment was quick and without exception. And what was the punishment? Let’s put it this way. When I was a child the words, “Time Out” hadn’t even been invented yet. And you know what? To the day they died, their last years being old and frail, the thought of raising my voice or being disrespectful to either of them never even crossed my mind. And it all began with nothing more than the fear of what would happen if I did. Oh, when I was a kid I had all kinds of good excuses why it would be acceptable to try this stunt or that. But those reasons usually paled in comparison to what would happen if I did.

Unfortunately we live in a society today where paddlings in any shape or form are becoming taboo. In fact in some cases, parents have lost their children because of it. And I’m not talking about out-right beatings and physical abuse. I’m talking about a parents giving a well-deserved spanking, and the wrong person learning of it. That happened to a couple we knew to be great parents. At ten, their son decided he was going to get revenge for a spanking. He told his guidance councilor at school. It was three months before a very sorry son was taken out of a foster care and reunited with his parents. But the bottom line was the child was legally taken away from the parents.

My first wife, who bore all three of our children was a yeller. The house was continually filled with her screaming threats. But she rarely took action and seldom followed through with her threats. I, on the other hand, said what I had to say once, maybe twice, making certain that the child I was talking to heard and understood me. If no reaction followed I immediately acted, without exception. And because they knew there was “no exception” with me, strong discipline was rarely needed. Bottom line, they knew what they could get away with mom, but rarely tried the same with dad. And it wasn’t something they had to think about. It was just embedded in their mental makeup from a young age. And a strange thing evolved….

My first wife and I have been divorced some 27 years. And to this day all three from time to time get in verbal arguments with their mother. In the same time period I can say that not one of my children, now all in their 40’s, have so much as raised their voices to me. As I said earlier, the thought to raise my voice or show disrespect to my parents never even crossed my mind. And I believe my children’s mentality is the same. And it all began with me not hesitating to consistently and fairly dole out the punishment when needed.

We watch our twin grandchildren, who are now five, once a week. On this particular day I could hear things beginning to get out of hand in the other room with grandma. Just about the time I thought I had better intervene I heard my wife say, “You want me to call grandpa in here?” Suddenly all was quiet. And the amazing thing? I have never laid a hand on either of them…yet. But I am consistent when it comes to a good scolding. And as of now they have chosen not to test my limits any further. And yet they play and intermingle with me as if nothing were different.

In an extensive scientific study, children and adolescents who swore they detested boundaries, in reality found comfort in knowing there were boundaries, in comparison to those who had free-will.

I have and always will refuse to allow a child to dictate what is acceptable behaviour in my home. Suggest yes, dictate no. That applied with my children, and it also applies to my grandchildren. It was a principle that worked with the way my grandparents were raised, the way my parents were raised, the way I was raised, and the way my children were raised. Love and respect has been and always will be the foundation of my family. And woe to the child that thinks otherwise. What my grandchildren do while away is out of my control. But my rules apply while in my house. And guess what, they know that, and are happier than clams at high tide. Obedient wise, they are noticeably different children when with us.

What ever I have said, take it for what it’s worth. Right now I am just venting over something this old man considered pathetic.


5 thoughts on “History Should Be Our Teacher

  1. I appreciate you wisdom and practice. And the fact that it is parents who allow their children to dictate boundaries holds in all areas, including food. Their kids are “picky” eaters because, well, they have been allowed to be.

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