Sunday, December 12, 2010

Raising Children to be Survivors

I was reading the Bill of No Rights again this morning, and while it is good for a pained chuckle or too, it always makes me pause and think.  Once more, I thought that so many of the problems we have in modern society is the result of "eliminating" consequences, and giving children what they have not earned.

Children are praised, even when they have not done well.  They know when they haven't done well, and so they don't value the unearned praise.  All it does is teach them that they don't have to try, and someone will fix it for them.  They never get to have that wonderful feeling of having truly good work recognized.  And for the children who actually do well, the unfairness of seeing their achievements devalued by the praise given those who didn't (and perhaps didn't even try), causes them to stop trying.  (I recommend that you read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for her take on the social implications of lowering standards to the lowest common denominator).

The loss of consequences where parents insulate their children from punishment when they behave in a manner that is (or used to be) socially unacceptable has led to a society of liars, thieves, and violent people.  I have heard young mothers brag about how well behaved their children are, and if "junior" is "naughty", they have a time-out.  A time-out, for crying out loud.  Those children are usually little s**ts.

When I was a child, a time-out was for when you were crying, and getting on mom or dad's nerves.  I got spanked when I was bad, and it did me no harm.  I learned right off the bat which things were okay to do, and which things weren't.  No endless time-outs in a bedroom full of toys and entertainment devices.  Just a single sharp statement, and I knew exactly where I stood.  My parents loved me, and I knew it because they taught me the rules of real life.

I tried to do the same for my kids, so that at least at home, they got realistic information about how life works.  Unfortunately, they were mired in the public school system, and I do not find them to be as prepared for reality as I would have hoped.  Both learned to work with their hands, but didn't learn to value that knowledge. But they both do understand my desire to be prepared for whatever comes down the chute, and I hope that one day, they will take steps of their own instead of planning to "go home".