Don’t forget the tough love

The Way I See It


It would seem that today there are many who would hesitate to discipline their children for fear that some capricious bystander would determine that child abuse has occurred. For example, you are in the grocery store and you have told your children to not take items off the shelf and pitch them down the aisle creating a hazard for other shoppers, but the little curtain climbers insist on it anyway. Having been forewarned, little Johnny gets a bottom warmer just as the can of spaghetti and meatballs heads toward a little old lady smelling the cantaloupe. Or, (I know you’ve seen this one), little Mary asks mom for a candy bar and mom says, “No, we are going to eat lunch as soon as we leave here, but you can buy one to eat after lunch.” The little heathen is not satisfied with that answer and proceeds to lay on the floor kicking and screaming because she didn’t get her way. “Excuse me, Dr. Spock, while I bring this child back to reality.”

I’ve heard parents say, “We explain to our children what they have done wrong before administering punishment.” Well, I say, that is like closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out. Children (and adults) who understand a swift and just punishment is forthcoming for unacceptable behavior are much more likely to toe the line. Explanations can come later, but the moment for action is fleeting. If your child is about to run into the path of an oncoming car, they better have been trained to react to your command of “STOP”. Would it not be considered love to save your child from peril? The problem is that some parents cannot or will not use good judgement when disciplining. We have all heard the horror tales of misused and abused children, but I contend there was no love in those circumstances. Whatever the reason, people who abuse each other or their children don’t have love in their hearts. On the other hand, people who don’t discipline their children have a misconstrued conception of what love really is.

So, do we hold the parents responsible for the action of their children? Absolutely. Until that child reaches the age of responsibility, parents are absolutely responsible. We feed, clothe and provide shelter for them. We love them, assist them, nurse them and provide all the essentials to them while they are in our care. Discipline falls into that same category. The unfortunate part of this equation is the fact that some children have no quality home life, loving and caring parents to guide them and teach them right from wrong. Unfortunately, this is a cancer that continues to spread because those children grow up and have more children, but have no knowledge about rearing children to be well-behaved citizens.

Those children become a task of schools, churches, government programs and, if no other, the law enforcement people. Yes, we must be ever vigilant for children who are abused, but at the same time, parents must be loving and caring enough to teach their children right from wrong. Children, like adults, must understand and obey the rules of society, otherwise we become a nation of people on the same level as animals in a barnyard.

This problem crosses all lines of society, financial, ethnic and religious. I have known children from well-to-do homes and financially strapped homes. Behavior was not guided by the dollar. The same applies to all. Discipline – loving, unwavering discipline, or the lack thereof – is the variable. Parents are not friends to their children; they are parents and should act accordingly. Don’t try to tell me you just can’t discipline them. Shut down the cell phone, X-Box, television, iPad, allowance or something dear to them and you will be amazed how quickly you have gotten their attention. Children need and want discipline. Show your love but don’t forget the tough love.

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Posted by on Jul 18 2013. Filed under Editorial Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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