Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why We're Reluctqnt to Reprimand Other People's Children

“As a society, we have grown reluctant to reprimand kids, not just our own, but other people’s, too.” I quote from an article in today’s WSJ. In theory, we believe it takes a village to raise a kid. But the village now seems reluctant to say anything about their own kids misbehavior and certainly not about someone else’s little darling. “But the truth is today’s kids often welcome discipline by outsiders even if they roll their eyes.” The article continues “one woman says she was at a Starbucks, and a little girl kept opening sweetener packets and dumping them on the floor. Honey, should you be doing that?” the woman asked the girl. “I beg your pardon!” snapped the girl’s mother. “Don’t call my daughter “honey,” and what she is doing or done, is none of your business.” We have a society that believes more and more that children should never be addressed let alone be reminded of their misbehavior.

Those who read me know that I visit some schools every year in District #150. I have been pleased with what I see at many of the schools like Northmoor, Hines, Whittier, Columbia, Franklin and others. I observe changes both for better or worse, under new School Superintendents, principals and teachers. The first two times I visited Loucks, I was pleased with what I saw only to be disappointed next time. The reason seemed to be a change of principals. I have seen blatant disregard of a teachers authority on many an occasion. Some of the teachers say that they cannot discipline their classroom because if they send those out of control kids to the office, the principal often sends the kid back to the classroom where the same discipline problems continue. Or the next day the teacher gets a call from the parent demanding to know why the teacher is “picking on my kid”. I’m told that teachers who can’t handle the discipline problems by themselves, some in higher authority many times make them feel that the teacher is the problem.(In some cases, that’s true.)A few of the problems are brought on by those in authority who ignore the small stuff and wind up losing respect and the classroom and whole school suffers disruptions that distract from the learning ability of those wanting to learn.

Gurian Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., is an educational training organization that compiles child-rearing research. They believe that problems such as anorexia, depression and chronic stress in children are exacerbated because kids today often live in communities where nobody but their nuclear families seem to care much about them. In Garrison Keillor’s novel “Wobegon Boy”, Mr. Keillor longs for the era when “you didn’t smart off to elders, and when a lady told you to blow your nose, you blew it.”

Victoria Juster of Long Grove, Illinois, serves on her local school board. One day while following a school bus, she observed misbehavior in the last row of the bus. When the bus stopped, Mrs. Juster asked the driver for permission to address the misbehaviors and did so. Parents of the mis-behaving students demanded that she resign from the school board. Fortunately, a school-district investigation cleared her and she remains on the board. She fondly recalls adults of a different era who felt it a duty to discipline. She recalls that when as a child visiting a friend’s home and when she misbehaved, she was made to sit in a corner. Today, she says, “I’m sure if I put someone’s kid in a corner of my house, the parent would never let her child visit again – or the parent might call their lawyer.”

Here is the “where and why” in at least many public school systems like District #150. Both teachers and school kids are in shrinking supply. The ITF defends teachers good or bad. One year in Illinois, out of 90,000 teachers represented by unions less than 6 teachers were dismissed for poor performance. And two of them filed costly lawsuits ($400,000.00 spent so far in one instance) The Superintendent and the board want every kid to stay in the classroom because lower head count means less government subsidies. Parents often can’t or won’t teach their kids any code of conduct. The kid pushes for all the concessions to his or her misbehavior they can get. They go to school or out in public and do the same thing. Small concessions often lead eventually to truancy, expulsion, drop-outs with hardly any education, then many juvenile court appearances with minor misdemeanors leading into felonies, followed by incarceration and/or death by violence

Disruption uncontrolled at home, public places and in the street, often leads young people down paths of self destruction of themselves and others, young boys impregnating younger girls, children bearing children, neither the father or the mother with much of an education, no family training and no job. As these kids these kids bear more kids they can’t handle, they create another layer of the same pattern growing larger in each generation.

Some of my readers with children now driving may want to call 1-866-5-MY-TEEN for bumper stickers that say “How’s My Teen Driving? and with your phone number on the sticker. Placing this sticker on your car may mortify your child but may save you lots of accident expense and maybe save some lives.

Kids pretend they are not looking for adult guidance including meaningful discipline. Don’t believe them; they are. As the father of three adults who were once kids, I know. Some have to stop being such sheltering parents and stop being just “buddies” with your kids. You are the adults who should know that kids are watching what you do and testing your tolerances. Many of us are failing or have failed. Fortunately, for this community and country there are far more successes in raising children than there are failures. But growing problems of community safety suggest that there are too many failures.

If you have access to the Wall Street Journal 7/27/06, I suggest reading the whole article from which much of the content of this blog was gathered.

Pleases do not be afraid to speak up or take lawful action when you observe behavior that could some day cause you or your family much personal harm and agony.


Anonymous said...

As a parent of young children I am amazed by the lake of actual parenting that goes on these days. I hear parents giving lengthy explanations to a 5 year old about why they want him/her to stop some behaving badly. I hear parents of the worst little demons talking about how gifted and under challenged their little monster is and bad behavior is just a bored genious trying to cope. Moms and Dads talking about losing priveleges to a six year old screaming and having a tantrum in the middle of a store. People please, take parenting lessons from your grandparents not Dr. freakin Phil or a book from Barnes & Noble. Whatever happened to swift punishment for bad behavior. It is O.K. to be embarrassed by your childs behavior and to take immediate steps to correct it, trust me we all want to spank the kid and will not fault you for doing so in public. Start when they are young, if you have a ten year old that will scream at you, call you names and throw temper tantrums in middle of Target you have already lost the war and your life will only get worse as you watch the disaster unfold.

Cheryl Shelabarger said...

It's odd that you happened to write on the subject of "correcting" other people's children. We have neighbors who cuss like you wouldn't believe! Guess what? Their children cuss too? Well, Friday afternoon I was taking my afternoon walk and one of the little boys said the "MF" word. I looked at him and said "Oh my! You actually eat with the same mouth that just spit out that nastiness?" He was quite sheepish and apologized. I told him that bad words don't make him look cool, they simply make him look stupid. I also told him that I knew he wasn't stupid so he should use words that show how smart he is!

Later in the day, I heard his Dad using the same words. It just made me so sad for the little guy. He and his brother don't have much of a chance with a role model like that.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is more that a child feels he can talk the way an adult can, that somehow that would be O.K. I grew up hearing my dad use words that I knew would get me in severe trouble were an adult to hear me utter the same, so I did not. Impulse control is a learned behavior, control your youthful impulses or deal with dads. My kids will hear me use an expletive, it happens, they do know the consequences should they repeat what they have heard, we are not equals.

Common Sense Dude said...

The lack of discipline and teaching kids the difference of right and wrong I believe is one of the major problems in society today. Kids today run the classrooms and households. Tomorrow they'll make lousy people. Parents are not doing their children any favors by withholding these life lessons.

Kids need to learn personal responsibility and realize that there are concerqueces to one's actions.

My parents were not afraid to initiate a spanking or two and I didn't become mentally scarred because of it. I learned that those actions were not tolerated and punishment came swift and hard. And if my parents were not there to discipline me when I misbehaved, they hoped someone else, such as a teacher, could do it for them.

But nowdays, kids believe that prison is where you go to play basketball and build your muscles. And parents and adults probably fear DCFS will be called if the slightest of spankings occur.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with much that you say or write, but I totally agree with your comments on this particular subject. I grew up with everyone around be reprimanding me with words and sometimes a spanking. they all did it because they cared about me.

I have heard children tell their parents that if they spanked them they would call DCFS, and believe me some have. Parents are afraid to dicipline because of the government.

I certainly do not believe in abuse and would never abuse a child or permit any one else to do it. But I grew up in a home that love all of us, but you knew what was expected of you. I raised my children the same way.

I believe we fail the children when we see them do something wrong and make no effort to verbally correct them. I have always done that and will not stop. It is amazing how children react when some one corrects them. The is the problem with society. The States have takenover raising children and has done a POOR job at it.

My children are adults and they would not think of disrespecting me or their father. They know that discipline that was given was given in love. In fact one of our children thanked us for how they were raised.

All we did was raise them like our parents raised us.