While feeding the Finster, I was flipping through the four channels our digital receiver brings in, when came across Rachel Ray having a discussion with a couple about their new reality show. I wish I could have caught the name of it, and if I google I’m sure I could find, it but that's not the point of this essay. This essay is about disciplining children.
The couple, guests of Rachel Ray, were being interviewed about how they run their home with similar tactics found in an army boot camp. The reality show has the couple taking in discipline problem teens, stripping them of old habits, helping them to develop new attitudes to learn to respect themselves and their guardians.Then they are sent back to their respective home and parents. I guess it’s like the show the Nanny except on steroids.
When I happened upon the conversation it was regarding discipline and what works, why and how to maintain respect in giving and receiving discipline. Rachel Ray asked, “ What’s wrong with just saying ”Because I said so?” to which the reply was, “Nothing.” If you are the parent it’s your job to set parameters for a child.
Where have parents gone off the rails in the discipline department? It seems rather overboard to run your home like a boot camp but what are the alternatives? I believe in parenting. Raising a respectful child who knows right from wrong, who will abide, test and break the household rules we as parents set.
There seems to be a generation of parents who have become “best friends” with their kids instead of parenting their children. Parents are working more and making less time for parenting, kids are left raising themselves. The “I can have it all” attitude does come at a cost to the child. Divorce and blended families where kids live by two sets of rules in divided households and parents who are raising princesses instead of little girls are to blame for the discipline issues in their homes. There is no quick fix and medicating children is not the answer. How often is a hyper active child really just acting out looking for some attention?
When I was a child my mother would tell me; "it's cold out side put a hat on." I, in protest, would respond, "but you don’t wear a hat." (mom always had her hair “done”) "Do what I say not what I do," was her reply. And so I did. I’m sure there was protest but I wore my hat and took her answer as gospel. Why? Because there were bigger consequences if I did not obey. I had chores, and homework to do. Privileges were lost if they were not completed in a reasonable and timely manner. My mother was a mentor, a guide, sometimes my friend but always the boss of me.
I can recall sitting at the green kitchen table. My mother was baking something complicated and fancy. She taught me a poem her mother had taught her, it goes like this:
I must do the things I must, before the things I may.
I’m not fit for any trust until I can and do obey.
This was the motto that ran our household and we were asked to repeat this verse often. The worst feeling in the world was disappointing my parents. One look by them could speak louder to me than a war of words or a raised fist.
Before we had a child my husband and I talked a lot about the discipline in our homes what worked what did not and how we would set and enforce rules in our own home. We had similar upbringings and are on the same page when it comes to discipline in our home.
I plan to lead by example as much as I can when it comes to guiding my child. I will put a hat on. I will set up age appropriate chores, outline parameters for proper behaviour. Then actively enforce these parameters fairly and be open to renegotiating within reason as the child ages or situations change. Negotiate, mediate and praise go a long way. So does my mom’s verse. I will likely teach it to my child. What I hope I won’t be, is the mother who does one thing while counseling another.
I won’t be the mom seen lighting a cigarette while telling my child smoking is bad – Do as I say not as I do –scenarios like this just simply are not in my nature. But the first time a scenario comes up where the appropriate answer is: "do as I say not as I do” I will come back print and eat this essay written on paper.