I’m taking a bit of a detour on this one. I came across a a blog post on social media the other day. Here is the link if you are interested. http://addins.kwwl.com/blogs/anchormom/2015/04/the-entitlement-generation To summarize, it railed against “the entitlement generation” and insinuated that they way children are raised today is the reason kids are “entitled”. The way her parents raised her would solve that problem in a hurry. The comments after the article were full of people praising her article and her methods. She was responding to an email that she had received from a stranger that stated “If your parents had to use a wooden spoon on you, then they clearly did not know how to parent you”. She took issue to this comment and wrote an article explaining the virtues of how she was raised.
In the article, her parents raised a doctor, an HR executive, and a Journalist, so “they must have done something right”
You know, I’m sure her parents are great people. This lady also seems like someone who in many ways I could look up to and admire. By her own admission, she is a successful well-rounded adult. And I agree with many points that she brought up. Her parents made them responsible for their actions. Her parents were not their “friend”. They were told no often. Her parents let them fall, so they learned how to get back up. Hey, I agree with this. We all need to be held to account. We need to go through tough times, to see that we can make it through. She made it clear that she and her siblings were raised with corporal punishment in order for her parents to achieve those goals.
BUT, here is where I start to have a bit of an issue. It is with this quote in the article.
“I’m nowhere near a perfect parent. I learn something new everyday. But I do know…I want to raise my kids the way I was. Because I don’t want to send spoiled, entitled brats into the world.”
What that is saying to me, is that without the wooden spoon, her kids, and by extension, most kids that don’t get the wooden spoon will be spoiled entitled brats. I know I am oversimplifying, but that’s the message I get. The question I have for her is did she grow up ok “because of” or “despite” how her parents raised her.
Look, none of us are perfect parents. Many of us are raising our kids the way we were raised and because we feel like we turned out OK, we try to emulate that. Sometimes that’s a good thing. But if you are truly trying to learn as a parent I would encourage you to look at other possible methods and ideas before deciding that the way you were raised will be the way you do it.
Her parents “taught” her respect. “if we talked back to our parents, we got the back of my mom’s hand to our mouths…if we used a bad word, we got soap in our mouths…”
Not to mention, the article has connotations of getting hit with a wooden spoon.
I’m not here to say that she is failing as a parent. I would be willing to bet, that her kids are wonderful, respectful, intelligent human beings. To be honest, this is the only post of hers that I have read, so I want to be careful not to judge too much.
My parents never laid a hand on me. Very rarely were we yelled at or punished. I have never been grounded. And I, too, feel like I turned out OK. I take responsibility for my actions, and I feel like I am a resilient, caring, hardworking individual. My parents taught me respect by being respectful. I am not saying my parent’s methods were better or worse, but I will say I never had soap in my mouth. It is very possible to raise well adjusted kids with very little, if any, punishment.
There are just so many factors that go into the making of a well-adjusted, hard working, resilient adult. Corporal punishment is scientifically proven to be bad for children in general. Yes it worked for her parents, but I’m not willing to take that chance. There are many kids who are spanked, that do not turn out to be doctors and lawyers and have very little respect for people. Socio-economic status, friendships, education, where you live, extended family, traumatic experiences in childhood, religion, and culture all play into how a child will ‘turn out”. If your parents were white, middle class Christians in America, no matter what your parents did to you, you probably ended up ok. But if you grew up in poverty or in the shadow of racism or in a single parent household or all of the above, a wooden spoon was probably not a huge incentive to be “good”. I am disappointed that some parents will read this and think that this is the answer if they are struggling with their youngsters. Even though some of the child’s actions may be completely normal and age appropriate.Using force to control them may work in the short term, but short term parenting is not the goal.
I do not want my kids to be entitled. I say no fairly often. They do make mistakes every now and then. What I try to do is control myself when that happens. I can’t imagine physically harming my children in any possible way. I try not to yell. (emphasize try) How can I expect them to show emotional regulation when I can’t control my emotions. I think everyone understands the hypocrisy of shouting “stop shouting!’ at your children. I am choosing my methods because after researching how children learn and how they behave, I feel like I am giving them the best odds of being resilient, caring, compassionate, hardworking, respectful adults. It still may not work out. There is no guarantee my kids will not end up in jail. If more research comes out that says there is a better way, I will evaluate that method. This is what learning is.
If your kids are fairly well behaved, respectful and doing well in school, then I am sincerely happy for you. Maybe you don’t have to change anything. But are you doing the best you possibly can for your kids if you haven’t at least looked at ideas or methods that might help them be even better? More importantly, is their mental health ok? After all, sometimes, strict parents raise sneaky children.