It is fairly simple to protect a child while at the same time readying them for the world. However, simple doesn’t always mean easy. Parents struggle with being a child’s friend or being their parent. Which one is more effective in raising an ethical hard working child?
When we are honest with ourselves and recollect the form of discipline that worked best on us, we might be surprised.
For me it was the truth. (I only got one paddling in my life and that was enough for me. Obviously, that was the most effective form of punishment, because it worked and I never did that level of stupidity again.)
Still, I got in trouble for normal kid-stuff like, being in the wrong place at the wrong time or with the wrong person. Even though nothing bad may have happened, my father would always talk to me about the possibilities that could emerge from that situation. He would tell me the truth. Now, let’s flip that record and see the other side... when something bad did happen or got too close to happening...
Let me put it this way; my father taught me that words have different meanings for a reason and should be applied correctly. Yes, he loved his little girl and enjoyed fussing and bragging on me like any good parent does. When I brought home A’s he told me how smart I was. When I made an out in softball he would tell me I was great. When I listened to him and trusted his wisdom he would call me wise.
Now back to that flip side. Yes, when I did bone-headed stupid things that could have gotten me or someone else hurt, I heard about it and the words “smart, great and wise” were not in the sentences that came out of his mouth.
I was called stupid, because I was being stupid.
The good thing about being called stupid? It doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. It won’t be a permanent condition if it is readily identified and voiced.
This is exactly like touching the hot stove and quickly realizing that you don’t want to do that ever again. You’re not damaged for life, you’ve learned.
Here’s the thing though parents, if you don’t teach them the difference between smart and stupid, the world will. Sadly though, the world won’t be as nice about it as you would be.
It’s called finding out the hard way. If they are blessed, they may only get called out for being unwise. If they are too sheltered and petted they may see the state intervene or some ‘bubba’ get tired of their blamelessness.
The United States Marine Corps is the most feared fighting force in the world with the least number of casualties. The instructors still yell, scream, intimidate, hurt and beat the living tar out of the recruits (privately, of course, regarding the beatings). It works, so don’t try and fix it. By the way, this is not bullying... here is the definition of a bully: one who is habitually cruel to others who are weaker.
Was my dad cruel? You may think so.
Was I weaker? Yes, I was a child.
Was it habitual? No, he just told the truth and the truth will set you free from your stupidity.
And yes, I still get stupid... and I’m glad I can hear him loud and clear.