It amazes me how some people let their kids speak to them. I was in Walmart today perusing the school supplies section in preparation for my foray back into the world of substitute teaching, and I heard a middle-school-aged kid arguing with his mom about school supplies. I think they were looking at notebooks, and he wanted one that was more expensive than she was willing to pay. So he said, in a very condescending and demanding way, “It’s $2.64, Mom. Just hike up your skirt and pay the extra money.” To her credit, Mom said no, but I couldn’t believe she didn’t turn around and pop him in the mouth. If I ever spoke to my mom like that, she would have grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the store, but not before we stopped off in the women’s bathroom for a sound verbal and physical spanking. And had this been my kid, I think I would have responded, in my own gentle, maternal way, with “How about I hike up my skirt and beat the snot out of you for talking to me like that?” followed by a swift, painful, and publicly humiliating smack on the butt. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t condone abusing your children, but I don’t condone letting them abuse you either. I’m not sure that all parents understand that children learn to respect adults by respecting their parents first, from a young age. So, if you don’t teach them to respect you, they don’t learn to respect their teachers either. And eventually, they may take that kind of behavior to the next level and speak to their bosses in a disrespectful manner, which will get them a one-way ticket to the unemployment line.
This was not an isolated incident. When I worked at Large Retail Store, I heard all kinds of hateful stuff coming out of the mouths of teenagers and pre-teens, directed toward their poor, browbeaten parents. And as a substitute, I’ve endured my share of backtalk. When I ask those kids if they talk to their mothers that way, they invariably tell me yes, or that their mothers don’t make them do XYZ. Obviously a lot of those kids are lying, but I know that a lot of them are being truthful, which is sad.
I think the problem is that our society has forgotten that parents are supposed to be just that – parents – not friends. Parents are so afraid of alienating their kids or of not being the “cool parents” that they are incapable of disciplining them. I think maybe some of this stems from reality shows where parents are portrayed more as friends, and ones that show kids acting outrageously bratty and spoiled and still getting everything they want (yes, I’m looking at you, “My Super Sweet Sixteen”). Obviously TV is not the only problem. Some people are going to let their kids run wild no matter what, and that’s really a shame. It reflects badly on them as parents, sets the kid up for failure later in life, and makes life harder for all that have to come in contact with their snotty kids.
So, bottom line? Discipline your kids. Spank them, ground them, take away privileges… whatever you have to do. But don’t forget to reward them every now and then when they’re good.