Discipline yourself Before You Discipline your Kid
I’ve seen plenty of unruly kids. Stay-at-home-parents, myself included, develop an awareness for the behavior and interactions of other kids with their parents. I think it’s because we subconsciously (or not) compare other people’s methods with our own. We smirk a little when we see someone who’s not quite as competent, as if their failure makes us better, and we make excuses when we see someone who did something right that we hadn’t thought of before. It’s dumb, I know, but we all do it so we might as well admit it. Considering just how biased I know I am, maybe it’s unfair to make a declaration of incompetence towards parents I’ve only seen in action a few times. Nevertheless, I think we can all safely say we’ve seen unruly kids being disciplined by equally unruly parents and that we’ve shook our heads thinking, “With a parent like that the kid doesn’t stand a chance.” It’s telling that dirty, uncivilized, and morally corrupt people produce, for the most part, kids who fall into the same mold. Young children, without access to other role models, naturally emulate their parents. The unfortunate reality is that it’s unreasonable to expect mentally stunted parents to self correct to become better. The children of very bad parents are truly at a major disadvantage. However, those of us who are sufficiently healthy (most of us) do have the capacity to look within ourselves to make adjustments. In fact, a sign of healthy parenting is not to never make mistakes, it’s the ability to admit mistakes.
Swearing is a Good Example:
I don’t care for censorship, and I believe that swearing is sometimes a healthy way to quickly express an emotion. I know a lot of people disagree with that, but I still maintain that swearing serves a purpose. But, what do you do when you see a parent who can’t control themselves, a parent whose mouth is a never ending stream of profanities? There is civilized swearing which might be funny or expressive, and then there’s the other kind — the kind where the “f” word is used in the same way teenagers say “like” or “you know”. My dad told me a story of a neighbor of his who was at the grocery store and saw a kid swearing at his mother for a toy, “Buy me the f*ing toy!” The mother smacked the kid and yelled at him about his foul language. My dad’s friend intervened. Apparently everybody in town knows this particular lady, and they know she’s someone who’s every utterance is expletive laced. Paraphrasing him, he said “How can you blame your kid for his language, when you yourself can’t stop swearing?” Knowing nods from shopping neighbors reinforced the fact that he was right. But the lady, as the story goes, got indignant and refused to admit she had a problem and that her problem was the source of her kid’s problem. Maybe it was just a case a saving face in front of a crowd of disapproving shoppers, but it seems like an example of a lady who hasn’t spent time disciplining her own actions so she can be a better and more fair parent.
I jump the gun punishing my kids sometimes. There are a lot of little things I do wrong. My actions are not wrong in the sense that I’m going to have the government come to my house like some really bad parents. But, none of us can claim we don’t make daily mistakes raising our kids. Admitting when we make mistakes isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply a sign that we’re thinking. It’s good to take a moment to consider our actions after we punish our kids. Were we justified? Did the punishment fit the crime? If we are equally guilty, as in the case of swearing, did we punish ourselves too? Nobody is perfect, but we all have to be willing to take our lumps for what we do that may negatively influence our kids. I think the worst parents are those who demand respect from their kids but who are incapable of earning respect from other adults. If you can’t earn respect, you shouldn’t demand it from your kid who is forced, against his better nature, to defer to your stupidity. It’s the unhealthy mind that can’t see negative parenting trends and make corrections for personal improvement.