A Different Parenting Era

“Next time you back talk me, I’ll swat you with a willow switch on the fat of your calves.”

I didn’t completely understand “back talk” but I got the message about the switch. That was my Grandma’s language.

“Eat your crusts or you’ll get worms.” “Eat tomatoes or you’ll get worms.” “Don’t eat all the plums in the bowl or I’ll get the flyswatter.”

It wasn’t just grandma, either. “Settle down and go to sleep or I’m coming down there with the belt.” We hear dad pull the belt out of the loops on his pants and snap it in the air at the head of the hallway.

I don’t know what I was dreaming the other night, but in the background Teddy was crying to get out. In my sound sleep, I guess I was dreaming that I was sharing my little brother’s room, and we were in trouble. I woke myself saying, “Don’t sing!”

My brother was happy with ANY kind of attention, but I only wanted GOOD attention. No one ever hit me — well once my dad spanked me (on the bottom with his hand) because I’d done something that could have hurt me.

I think parenting stragedies have changed a lot since then, judging from what I hear from my step-daughter-in-law. Having taught so many people raised by parents who are not me, I could see the evolution of parenting in the behavior of my students. Being the “end-user” so to speak, and based on my own life, I developed the philosophy that the goal of parenting is to prepare kids to enter a world of other people in which they are likely to be minor characters. Strange, isn’t it? Even in my generation, kids were raised to believe they were very important. It’s a pretty big shock to realize the actual scale of ones importance. I might prepare my kids for that.

But, I thank the fates every day that it was not my fate to be anyone’s mom. I like the roll fate had prepared for me — the OTHER adult in the lives of kids who needed me ❤

Photo: Me (age 10), my Grandmother Beall (on the Schneebeli side), and my little brother with his broken arm.


6 thoughts on “A Different Parenting Era

  1. Wow. I just subbed today in a class for special needs kids. One of the aids was talking about having been written up for using a disallowed hold to control an-out-of control student. She’d gone thru several months of specialty training in order to become an aid and they had taught several different holds one could use to restrain a student who was dangerous to themself or others. Apparently, half of her training was now disallowed but nobody sent her the memo.

    If a student does not want to come in from recess, the yard duties have to talk to the student to convince him/her to come back voluntarily. They aren’t allowed to touch the student in any way or say anything that could be interpreted as intimidating.

    Just last week I had a general education 5th-grade student who became violent. He knocked over his desk and then got into it with another student whose water bottle he knocked over. In the process he grabbed the other student’s shoe and threw it, striking a girl. I called the office for help and was very clear about the situation. They said someone would be out. Ten minutes later I have miraculously separated the quarreling student “without touching or intimidating anyone” and it was down to them screaming at each other with the instigator using blue language with the proficiency of a career sailor.

    I called the office again and finally got them to send the assistant principal. She came out and escorted the two students to the office. Five minutes later the instigator was outside my door climbing on the stairway handrails like monkey bars. I let the office know and tried to talk the kid down. Assistant principal comes out and says she was wondering where the kid went as he had disappeared.

    The rest of the day she came and went collecting statements from the students as if they were witnesses to a crime and she was investigating it. Nobody asked for mine. At least she said I’d done the right thing to call the office. Turns out the instigator was known for sudden outbursts. The important fact was nowhere in the teacher’s notes that had been left for me.

    Heavy sigh!

  2. In my youth, I got spanked from time to time. On most occasions, I worked hard to get my consequence. Had my parents knew half the things I did with my teenage friends, I never would have been allowed outside the home. What might have helped was more discussions about life, more time together on projects and things, but they took care of us far better than most families I have seen in recent years. But one of the difficulties I see today is parents trying to be their children’s best friends, hanging out with them, then forgetting to correct their behaviors, sometimes feeling guilty when they do. Parents, in my view, are benevolent dictators. They love the children, but that means being strict when strictness is needed. That means holding the kids responsible, and when they aren’t removing privileges and freedom, and yes, sometimes what I got. If children don’t learn consequences, then they grow up with an attitude of superiority not earned. They grow up thinking all of their feelings are right. They are not. And what values will they instill in their own family when they grow up? Growing up is difficult. And parents must be the parents, putting the responsibility of parenting before their own interests.

    • I agree with you. I wouldn’t want the job (and didn’t take it on). I see a lot of stuff that would never have gone on in my family which, until a certain point, was a healthy family. Kid’s aren’t stupid and they figure out early how to manipulate their parents. I think parents have to resist that, no matter how unpleasant it is. I loved that my dad and I did projects together, but I respected his authority. Thanks for reading!

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