Monday, October 10, 2011

Discipline and Growing Adults

When I was a little girl and I would go out to play with friends in the evening I had to be home before dark. I would test this and get home at dusk some nights until my mother told me about a little girl that was abducted going home from her neighbor's house after dark. I'm not sure if that was a true story, but I wasn't willing to test the theory. So usually I made it before dusk. Once I discovered Ricky Schroeder on Silver Spoons it was a non issue because I had to be home to see my show.

I had my first job when I was probably 11 years old selling discount cards for General Tire. My next job came at 15 when I started working at the mall. Plus I cleaned our house for as long as I can remember. While I was always taught that you work then you get paid if you don't work you don't get paid, I wasn't taught what to do with the money once I had it. So of course I spent it till it was gone. When I was sixteen I was given a car with the stipulation that I would have to work to pay for the insurance and gas.

I wasn't allowed to date till I was sixteen. Even group dates were a resounding no until then. My bedtime on school nights was 9:00 P.M. Until I graduated from high school. When I started dating I was allowed to be out on the weekend until 11:00 P.M.  It wasn't until college, and I was dating the man I eventually married when my curfew moved to 12:00 A.M. And then eventually to 1:00 A.M. But I am not sure that actually counted because usually I fell asleep in the car on the way home anyway, so really it was pointless.

My mother was fairly strict by some people's standards I suppose. She didn't tolerate disrespect and I don't think time outs were invented yet because I just got my hind end beat. She got her message across and eventually I learned how far I could go without pushing her to the edge. Not that I always stopped in time, but I knew that there were consequences to my behavior. I didn't have my first drink of alcohol until I was 21. My entire family on my mother's side and half of them on my father's side were smokers and I never once picked up a cigarette. I never got into any trouble in school and while my mouth would get me into trouble at home at times, I was a good kid.

All of those same rules apply in my household. With the exception being that I would prefer if they didn't date until they were out of college. We do not buy our children things whenever they want them. They work to pay for them and save birthday money for the things they want. If they don't do chores they don't get paid. Because the reality of life is if you don't work you don't get paid. It's simple and it's a life lesson every kid needs to learn. My children hear the word “no” regularly and learn that they can't always get their way or the things they want. We do not drink in front of our children and we maybe have a handful of drinks in a year. My husband nor I smoke. They know that there are alcoholics in my family and that grandma died from cancer caused from smoking.

When they get too big for their britches I remind them that they are the children and not the adults. I also know that as Dave Ramsey once said I am raising them to be adults not children. If we raise our children to continue to be children we are going to raise an entire generation of 40 year old “kids” living in their parent's basements and sponging off of them for money till the parents eventually die. Well I don't have a basement and while they are sure to receive an inheritance when we die, we aren't working hard so they can not work when they are old enough to take care of themselves. I believe that too many parents today try so hard to be friends with their kids they forget that their main job is to parent them. When my children were younger and were mad at me they would say “you're not my friend anymore!” To which I would say “God did not put me on this earth to be your friend. He put me here to be your mother. He has given you friends and me friends and when you are grown to the person God wants you to be, THEN we will be friends. Until then, I am you mother and my job is to educate you and care for you. You are getting a free education. Say thank you!” The last line was taken from a very dear friend of mine. She uses that one and I have taken to using it with my own kids.

I am not sure when it became the custom to not discipline our kids. When parents all got so worried about hurting their feelings that they lost that simple ancient two letter word of “no”. Perhaps if more parents used the word we would have fewer boys walking around with their pants sagging down so low that a strong breeze would make them fall down.

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” In Proverbs 29: 15 “The rod and the rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” The instructions are in the Bible. I don't want to raise 40 year old children who never leave home and can't provide for themselves. As much as I love my children and feel sorrow in thinking about their one day growing up and leaving the nest, I want them to experience their own lives more. I want them to respect authority. I want them to work hard for the things they want and need and to know that just as the Bible says in Proverbs 22:7 "...the borrower is slave to the lender."  I want them to be everything God created them to be. They need to know that disappointments come with the territory. There are no silver platters that are going to be handed to them with all of their dreams come true. They are going to have to work for them.

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