Swimming With the Sharks…

Or Disciplining Kids, Same Difference

It seems like there are so many things we can’t discuss honestly anymore and how we discipline our children is one of them. Everyone has their own opinions about it, like they do with just about everything related to parenting. Some will take it personally if your opinion doesn’t match theirs and others might become angry or jump on their judgemental high-horse. So, everybody just take it easy and do not do any of these things because I promise you, we will disagree!

When it comes to disciplining our youngsters, we might differ on things such as the length of time-outs, whether or not it’s cruel to stick your kid’s nose to the wall while in a time-out, or if it’s now considered child abuse to send your kid to bed without dinner. I think we can all agree that these sorts of things would be highly inappropriate if done in response to your normal, everyday kid calamities. For example, I could fill up our backyard kiddie pool with all of the milk my lovely little heathens have spilled over the years. Though they may get a curse correction to be more careful next time or be made to clean up their own spill, I wouldn’t say that qualifies for any sort of punishment. However, I suppose we as parents could even disagree on what children should or should not be disciplined for.

To be clear, I am strictly talking about discipline related to a child being willfully disobedient. There are some whack-job parents out there that do some pretty horrible things to their children with evil intent and they have no place in this discussion. I think most of us just want the best for our kids and when we see them acting like despicable little minions, we want to find the best way to correct it. In my case, I know that if I can’t nip my own minions’ naughtiness in the bud now, they will have a harder time with other authority figures later–or perhaps we’re already speeding down that road…

Here’s the thing, I really don’t want the teacher at conferences to tell me that my kindergartener purposely showed his junk to other boys and had a pee-party all over the bathroom floor. Nope, don’t wanna be humiliated like that again. I also don’t want my preschooler to come crying to me because some bigger kid punched him in the stomach. Then when I go over there to take care of that shiz with the other boy’s parents, find out in a hot second that it was actually my peanut-sized son who threw the first punch.

Yikes.

No mom ever wants their kid to learn a lesson like that the hard way but I’m guessing it worked. I’m pretty sure my tiny son won’t have any more crazy ideas that he’s just as strong as Antman from Avengers. He’ll have learned that there will be a price to pay if he simply tries to get his toy back from the big kid villain by popping him a mighty punch. It will not actually send the mean boy into the next universe. The evil nemesis will remain here and punch back, and it will hurt. Anyway, after that particular incident, I think the whole punching phase might be over with. Yes, it has happened before (grimace)…with a bigger girl at an arcade. She didn’t hit back though. She just told her mom about it and my husband and I were profusely apologetic and completely embarrassed. Peanut son didn’t get to buy any prizes with his tickets that day and cried a bucket of tears on the way home but that didn’t do the trick, did it? The toy-stealing, boxing episode was only a couple of weeks later but, as I said, I’m hopeful that may have been the end of it. In fact, my little guy recently didn’t want me to clip his finger and toe nails because he wants to grow them out, just like Black Panther. Yay! No more punching! He just wants claws for scratching the crap out of people instead.

Goodness gracious, I won’t survive this.

I only have a limited amount of time to mold these children into the amazing adults I pray they’ll become one day. If I can’t figure it out, one kid could end up being a permanent resident in my basement at the age of 30. Another one of my wonder children could wind up sitting next to “Bubba” behind some shiny metal bars with a piss-pot in the corner (FYI, I actually do call my middle child “Bubba” in a loving and endearing way so don’t get your panties in a bunch if you happen to call one of yours that name also. The connotation of that name just fits so nicely when describing jailbirds, don’t you think?).

Y’all know I’m not exaggerating, these things do happen to good parents who love their children in every way and yet they still turn into miscreants as adults.

From the generation of the millennials on down, it seems like so many kids and young adults just don’t know how to behave anymore. They are far more rude, disrespectful, and entitled than ever before and my kids are headed in the same direction. It’s not like I’ve been in denial (I’ve been admitting my failures to my friends and family for years) I just don’t know how to stop it! I actually get taken aback if one of my children has a friend come over that is fully loaded with the pleases and thank yous, like without some adult whispering gentle reminders in their ear. If a young teenager at a crappy drive-thru is polite–totally shocked. Am I right or do I just live in the wrong part of the country? We used to be all “Minnesota nice” here but that turned into “I’ll be nice to your face…” to now “nice when I’m in the mood.” Maybe it’s better down south? All of you Southern Belles will have to let me know. In truth, we as a society have changed how we interact with each other over the years and it’s not for the better.

I always think about my parents’ generation and why kids back then were so much better behaved. They respected and feared their elders because if they didn’t, they paid a heavy price. Mom, Pops, Granny, or that nice neighbor down the street would quickly pull out their special can of whoop-ass for any and all misbehavin’. The whole community was on the same page and kids knew the rules and what was expected of them. In my opinion, the generation that raised my parents was one of the finest generations of my lifetime. Look at the WWII veterans for example–minus a few old, crusty cranks–these men were filled with honesty, integrity, and chivalry. Do you think that would be easy to find on Match or Tinder? Kidding about Tinder, but you get my point. For any lady out there that has actually found one of these gems, good for you, you’ve won the freakin’ lottery.

Fast forward to my generation (“X” apparently but no one ever really talks about us) that grew up in the 80s and 90s. I think this is when things started going south. Some of us were raised by those “peace and love, it’s all good” hippie parents. Some of us were raised by more traditional styles of parenting. Some of us were raised by a bit of both. Some of us were still spanked, including me and my sisters, but likely much less so than my parents were. Some of us were made to do a butt-load of after school chores, some only had to do a few, and others started learning how to be a freeloader right off the bat. Therefore, different parenting styles had emerged and that community I previously mentioned rapidly disintegrated into “your kid, your problem.” As a kid back then, you could push the boundaries a little more and test out the consequences depending on the person in charge. I think most of my generation still had a healthy respect for the authority figures in our lives even though we did cause some trouble now and then but as younger generations followed, that respect seemed to slip more and more.

Where does that leave us mommies and daddies today?

We have a myriad of ways to approach parenting and discipline. Unless we are lucky enough to have an extended family that shares in child-rearing, we are left without a community. We are on our own. We can find all kinds of articles or research that supports one discipline style over another and we can find the same amount supporting its opposite. There is a social stigma regarding spanking which leads to that gray area between a mild slap on the toosh and actual child abuse. Other forms of discipline you may have experienced as a child are now deemed unacceptable to many. Positive reinforcement is strongly encouraged these days, and should be, but it might not always do the trick when it comes to out-of-control, mini-monsters. What works for one kid might not work for another, even within the same family. What works for a younger child likely won’t work for a pre-teen. You guys know the deal, you constantly have to adjust how you parent. As soon as you feel you’ve found the cure for the mutiny within your castle, those ruffians of yours mature into a brand-new kind of menace and you’re stuck trying to come up with a novel strategy to defeat them all.

I’m not trying to be a whiny victim here (it’s not fair!) but the truth is, I’m floundering around in frustration.

The joys of parenting far out-weigh the challenges of it which makes it totally worth it and I love my crazy kids more than life itself. However, that doesn’t mean everyday is a picnic. My kids aren’t the worst of the worst either but they are definitely worse than me and my two sisters were when we were growing up and I’m struggling to figure out why. My husband actually was the worst of the worst though, so maybe it’s genetic?

12 years into parenting and I still have no clue but I am determined to turn this ship around without having to hire someone like that nanny on T.V. who swoops in and fixes everything in a few days because:

A) Get real, I couldn’t afford to hire a nanny anyway, especially when I’m already stretching the amount of time in between getting my hair done.

B) I guarantee a lot of those kids she “fixed” are back to being hellions because who even has the energy to be that consistent everyday and every night? Are you gonna spend 3 hours plus dragging your kids back to bed when you have to wake up for work at 5 a.m.? I think not, but if you want to try that particular game plan, go for it!

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe consistency is the key and I strive for it everyday. I strive for it.

Be that as it may, in the real world of mommy life–with work, school, sports practices, and back-to-back schedules–it becomes a legitimate challenge. Navigating around these obstacles is my focus here and perhaps while I’m stumbling about, screwing up my own kids, you all will get a sense of what NOT to do. You can actually learn a lot from watching a person sink, like maybe how not to drown. If you have an awesome tip to share, toss it out to my comments section like a pool floatie and maybe it will help me stay above water. However, if you truly find no educational insight from all of this then grab some popcorn because, at the very least, it’ll be entertaining!

2 thoughts on “Swimming With the Sharks…

  1. rlpolanski May 21, 2019 / 11:48 pm

    Love this. I parent all of my children differently. One responds to my steely glare by melting into a puddle of tears on the floor while another will laugh to my face. So yeah, I totally get it.

    Liked by 1 person

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