Parents, is fear really the best deterrent?
What with the weather finally turning nice last week I took the opportunity to get out of the dungeon my company calls an office and escaped to the park to eat my lunch.
Not only did I see the sun for the first time in I don't know how long, I also got away from the irritating people I work with, and got an hour without having to listen to their incessant moaning about our bosses and how badly paid they are.
Personally I think some of them should just be grateful to have a job at all, after swanning in late, leaving early and spending most of the day on Facebook. But that's a topic for another column.
Anyway, back to the park. There I was sitting on a bench minding my own business, as I normally do, when I noticed this child climbing a tree. Nothing unusual there you might think, but the would-be Tarzan was then summoned down by his mother suggesting he might want to 'get out of that tree before you hurt yourself'.
Ah, I thought, a perfect example of a caring parent. Or not, as it turned out, because that suggestion was followed by the slightly darker one that failing to come down would result in being beaten with a stick.
This whole exchange got me thinking about what parents say to their children and the threats/fear we use to try and get them to do what we want. It also got me wondering as to whether or not any of this is actually effective, or does in fact make the child think their parents are crazy.
Take this little gem which mothers can be heard saying to their sons all the time: “You're just like your father.” Now this of course is where the mother unknowingly, or knowingly, plants the seed in the child's head that dad is a good-for-nothing SOB, and don't grow up like him.
Or how about the old favourite: “Do you want a spanking?”
Obviously a rhetorical question intended to encourage the child to think about the consequences of their actions, but what about the consequences for the parent? First, they have to follow through with said spanking, and second, what happens if the response is: “Ooh, yes please, I have been a bad boy haven't I?”
Think Stewie in 'Family Guy'.
Some threats of course are just downright silly. The tried and tested: “This is going to hurt me more that it's going to hurt you.” Usually said before a child is going to get a damn good spanking, in the days when you could spank a child.
Today the authorities will get some hotshot lawyer to take you to court and sue you for everything you got, but nevertheless still a blatant lie because the child is probably too young to appreciate the difference between physical pain and the guilt a parent feels for hurting them.
Till this day I've never seen a parent walk away sniffling and sitting in a corner sulking after administering the spanking. It's more like: “I cut dat byes tail, he ain't gonna be doin' dat again.”
Here's another good one: “Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about.” A promise which will probably only convince the child that his parents are actually members of the Mafia.
Of course, my all time favourite is: “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!” Great! Mum and dad are murderers and the child thinks you are psychotic.
It's not just parents who children are taught to be afraid of, we teach them to be scared of the police as well. “If you don't wear your seat belt, the police will put you in jail.” Nice one. Now because you can't get control of your children you are going to put the fear in them that police are bad — even if they did give me a ticket for driving against the flow of traffic on a one-way street.
Still, I know it's difficult to bring children up these days and as parents we are all a little guilty of using fear tactics. I must confess I too have succumbed to the temptation of using the “fear card”. I once told one of my children: “Remember you used to be a twin.”
But, children have enough to deal with these days without having to worry about their abusive, sadistic, psychopathic parents. So, parents, please ease off a bit. Remember, you can't take words back once you've said them.
And, think about this, your children are the ones that will be picking your retirement home and payback can be a b*****!
Something got you tire pressure up e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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