You’re turn, junior…
Actually, this is more directed at you, Mom and Dad. There is a detail we get from time to time entitled 601 W&I (Welfare and Institutions). This is the section verbatim:
601(a): Any person under the age of 18 years who persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian, or who is beyond the control of the person, or who is under the age of 18 years when he or she violated any ordinance of any city or county of this state establishing a curfew based solely on age is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court.
There are a couple more subsections, but basically, this is what is referred to as the “Uncontrollable Juvenile” detail. My opinion? Ain’t no such thing (and before you grammar dorks hop up on your soapbox, I’m taking literary license. I know it’s a terrible sentence.).
This section was enacted to control truancy and habitually disobedient children. I have a couple messages for two select groups. First, the parents. Second, the kids.
Parents…listen, you have to understand something. You are bigger than your kid(s). Get it? I don’t care if little Johnny is 6’3″ and 250 lbs. You’re bigger. Know why? Because you’re Mom. Because you’re Dad. Your house is not a Democracy. It is a Dictatorship. If it’s not, it should be. That is not to say your child can’t have an opinion about things. That is not to say you shouldn’t value Suzie’s feelings. Make no mistake, I will listen to everything my children have to say; however, at the end of the day, what the Wife and I say, goes. End of story.
Parents….you don’t understand why your little sweetheart won’t mind you? Well, gee, did we ever set boundaries for them whilst they were a-growin’? No? Hmmm…did we give them consequences for their actions? No? Damn. Did we, oh I don’t know, teach them to respect their elders, their peers, and themselves? No? Well then guess what Mommy and Daddy? Their behavior is your fucking fault. I can’t fix in 17 minutes what it took you 17 years to permanently fuck up. Sorry. You’ve no one to blame but yourselves.
This may sound harsh. Ok, fine, it’s harsh. It also happens to be reality. It boggles my mind that I get detailed to a house where Mom complains that Junior “just won’t go to school”. Are you kidding me? Know what would have happened in my house if I said some silly shit like that growing up? Besides the fact that I’d be standing for near a month after the spanking, either Mom or Dad would’ve taken my now-beet red ass to school. How’s about you throw Johnny in the damn car and drive him to school. Sit in his class if you have to. Take responsibility. YOU ARE A PARENT. I am not your child’s father. I am not your parent-coach. Do your goddamn job!
Before you get too up in arms…I’m not advocating beating your kid. Not by a stretch. In my opinion, any corporal punishment should be done out of love, not anger or frustration. You will not help the situation if you just start wailing away. Explain why the behavior was wrong. Explain a better way to handle it. Explain the consequence. Any punishment dealt out of anger or frustration merely clouds and confuses the issue.
Now its your turn, Johnny and/or Suzie. Feeling pretty good after I reamed ‘ol Mom and Popz, right? Well shut your mouth, cause I got news for you, too. When you and your stupid little buddies think you can get over on your folks by holding the ‘abuse card’ over their heads, you got another think coming. Know what? Mom and Dad have every right in the world to spank your little bottom blue. Matter of fact, how’s about I stand by and they can go to town on you and I’ll let you know how far they can take it. That work for you?
Remember the time that you were throwing a fit and Mom grabbed your arm in her vice-like grip? Left a nasty bruise, didn’t it? You told your school counselor about it and she reported it because she’s required by law. You do? Sit down, sweetie…Mom could have done a hell of a lot more and still be right by the law.
You know what your folks are required to do? Four basic things…1)feed you 2)clothe you 3)shelter you, and 4)educate you. That’s it, kid. You like that PS3? Not yours. Cell phone? Also not yours. Your car? Nope. Your TV? Nuh-uh. All that shit belongs to your parents. They allow you to use it. It never ceases to amaze me when parents ask me, “I can take those things away?” Unreal.
Junior, you are but a serf in the fiefdom that is your house. You can either be the one sleeping in squalor or you can be the one in the main house helping out. You don’t get a vote…or if you do, it like my Mom always said, “It doesn’t count because I get to vote twice”.
A final thought to you parents out there. If there are two things I can encourage you to do it’d be get on the same page with your husband/wife and be consistent. Kids sense the weaker parent. They do it from the day you bring them home from the hospital. It may sound silly, but its an absolute. We are genetically predisposed to discover and exploit weakness to get what we want. The “weak” parent in one situation may be the stronger in another. It’s the age-old “Mom and Dad ’em” situation. If Mom won’t let me, ask Dad and vice versa.
Consistency is key. Don’t threaten Johnny with a consequence and not follow through. You’re not doing yourself any favors….and believe me, Johnny knows it. I’m not saying it’s easy. I am, however, saying it works. How do I know? I’m a product of it. My parents were on the same page all the time. My actions had consequences. And I paid for them. They may not always have agreed with one another about whatever stupid shit I pulled, but, in my eyes, it always appeared as a united front. Without a doubt.
I’ll throw in a third caveat of Communication. Talk to your kids, people. You are not raising children. You are raising little adults (credit: Mom). If your kid is a little asshole, he/she will be a big asshole when they grow up. Talk to your kids like adults. They’re a hell of a lot smarter than you may give them credit for. They know the score and, believe it or not, are dying for you to set them straight.
Now, lets hug it out…