We watched the Super Nanny last night. Can you tell there’s a writer’s strike? Whew! Every time I see that show (which is not very often) I just shake my head at the number of people who are apparently afraid to or are unwilling to parent their children and are desperate enough to beg for help before a nationwide television audience. I’m tellin’ ya’, if I stank that bad at parenting I would not show the world. I’d get some professional help that didn’t involve television cameras. During every episode, as I watch those unruly children run around screaming on my TV, my first thought is that everybody in that house, parents included, needs a butt whoopin’, a wake up call to jar them into reality. If I were the Super Nanny, that would be my first step; THEN we’d get down to new rules and that naughty pad business.
Sure, parenting is hard. It’s the hardest job you can have. If we all knew how hard it was before we had children, we wouldn’t procreate. We’d die out like the Shakers. Fortunately, most of us go into it with rose colored glasses, so the world’s population keeps growing. It’s tough, and it takes determination (and a little self medication), but I’m amazed at the people who just throw their hands up in the air and let their kids run wild. Kids today seem more rude and out of control than the kids of previous generations. One of the young kids on that show last night smacked his dad. That certainly wouldn’t have been accepted in my parents’ house. If I had tried something like that I would have been spanked so hard I would have worn my butt for a hat. As kids we were expected to show respect for adults, and we were never allowed to run around a restaurant or a store. And we knew who was boss. My parents always had the upper hand, even when I got older. Hubby’s did too, even though he towered over his folks. When he was about sixteen years old, he got a little too big for his britches one day and smarted off to Mama J. with some pretty ugly language. She swung at him with her fly swatter (or fly flipper as she calls it), and he danced around and smarted off some more. He ran away from her and told her she was too old to keep up with him. She looked him dead in the eye and said, “I may not catch you today, but I WILL catch you.” And she did, about a week later. He had forgotten all about her threat and was getting ready for a date. He thought he was home alone when he jumped in the shower. He wasn’t alone. When he finished, he mosied out of the bathroom naked and down the hallway toward his bedroom. Mama J. was waiting behind a door and jumped out, swinging a leather belt at his naked hind end. She used the element of surprise to her advantage and wore out his backside all the way across the house. From that day on, he kept his mouth in check.
When I was growing up you were expected to mind any adult that was in the room. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and family friends never hesitated to call you out on bad behavior, and your parents didn’t mind. They expected it. If you were playing with a group of kids, and trouble erupted, it was quite possible everybody would end up punished without any questions being asked. Like Big Mama said in Madea’s Family Reunion, “I’m old school honey. I’ll beat the h**l out of you first and ask questions later.” I never got beaten, but I got my share of spankings and time spent in silence on the couch. Mama was one of those who liked to promise you a spanking “when your daddy gets home”, which was generally hours after the infraction. You had to worry and wait all stinkin’ day for that whoopin”, which was usually worse than the actual spanking. She was also fond of swinging blindly into the back seat of the car with her right hand while she was driving with her left. I used to think she was crazy. Then I grew up and became a mom. Now I marvel at how she survived raising the three of us.
I don’t think spankings are the answer to every discipline problem, and I believe they should be used sparingly and without brute force. I believe there is a difference between spanking and beating your child. There are certainly other forms of discipline that are effective. If I take Teen Angel’s cell phone and computer away from her, she lapses into fits of despair and drags around with a faded lilly on her chest until her sentence is up. If she starts acting like a horse’s butt in public places, her dad and I usually start holding hands, dancing or playing smooch face. That straightens her right up. We certainly aren’t perfect parents. We have stumbled and failed miserably at different times over the years, but we keep plugging away. I never thought we had a choice. I don’t understand why some parents think they do. It makes me want to jump out from behind a door and wail on their backside with a leather belt.
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