21st CENTURY DISCIPLINE

As a person with no children, I am of course no expert on child rearing.  I did not even know until recently that you “rear” your children, not “raise” them like everybody says.  According to my source, “you raise chickens.  You rear children.”

Whatever you call it, parents have to do something to develop their offspring into adults.  I’ve always been interested in that, since I may have kids of my own someday.  Being the first-born, when I grew into an adult, I realized that the oldest in the family is the prototype.  Ask any first-born and they will tell you that their parents had no clue as to what they were doing.  So they erred on the side of psycho!

The stress of being thrust into adulthood is often too much for young parents.  Faced with the realization that there is a tiny person who depends on them for everything is often a big wake-up call.  What in the world do we do?  My sister thought she had it all figured out.  She read all the books on child-rearing until she was an “expert.”  She had also been a professional nanny for rich folks.  She had all the classes and certifications and credentials and was was ready to bring young ones into the world.

One day she mentioned that she didn’t believe in corporal punishment.  I asked if she had to wait until her child was promoted to sergeant to punish her.  Not amused, she explained that she would use “time out.”  “How’s that work?” I asked.  This was going to be good.  She said with a haughty demeanor that she would explain to the child that Mommy is very disappointed in her and that her behavior is unacceptable.  She will then go to her room and think about what she did until she is genuinely sorry for how she acted.  “What if it doesn’t work?” I asked.  “Oh, it will work!” Sis explained enthusiastically.  “But what if it doesn’t?” I pressed.  “It will work!” she raised her voice an octave.  She then began to rehearse all the courses and certifications and credentials she’d received and the books she read, their authors, Dr. Spock and all. “Hey, I’m all for time out,” I explained.  “I wish Mom and Dad believed in it.  But what if it doesn’t work?”  Exasperated, she left the room.

The years passed, and my sister gave me three beautiful nieces who are the joy of my heart.  They’re close in age and sometimes very spirited.  Quenching one tirade from the middle one, she told her that if she didn’t be quiet, she was going to get a spanking.  “What bout time-out?” I asked with a smile.  Rolling her eyes, she said, “Please!”

The girls are turning out to be wonderful young women.  The oldest one is a sophomore in college and the other two are in high school.  They are pretty well behaved and surprisingly responsible.  When they get out of line, my sister just has to threaten to take away their smart phones.  That does it.  Being cut off from the world of cyberspace is the worst kind of punishment imaginable.  download

The experts never envisioned smart phones.  Live long and prosper, Dr. Spock!