Thursday, February 07, 2008

If We All Behaved Ourselves, The Whole World Would Be Better

To pick one issue out of the long list of "Things That Really Bother Me A Lot," let's go with Door #1 and talk about BEHAVIOR.

Why don't people behave?

It's not even that hard. You exercise a little self-control and keep your hands off other people's stuff, which includes their bodies as well as their possessions, unless you ask nicely first and get their permission. And you're smart enough not to ask permission if you know it's not really proper.

You say "please" and "thank you," and mean it. Or not; if you do it right, you can pull it off. But you say it.

Whether you believe they are Divine or not, you heed the Ten Commandments. Even if you don't Believe, those ten rules are practical and not that difficult to obey. Plus, if you compare/contrast lists of rules for almost every belief system, there's not really that much difference. You can obey the Commandments no matter what "religion" you profess to be, or not to be. I mean, who could find fault with "Don't kill people" or "Don't steal from people" and "Be nice to your parents?" Besides murderers, thieves, and ingrates, that is. And how would you like it if people used YOUR name to swear with?

Parents, require your children to behave themselves. This will only work if the parents behave themselves, too. Self-control. Restraint. Denying yourselves something you know is wrong or bad for you and those who will grow up imitating you in almost every way.

Make sure there are consequences when your children don't behave properly. Require proper behavior at home, at school, in public, friends' homes, EVERYWHERE. Make bloody sure you give them a positive role model who also behaves; if you say one thing and do another, what you've said becomes a joke and you're perceived as a liar. More because you ARE a joke and a liar, than for any other reason.

No kid has a "right" to his toys, video games, electronics, etc. If your child doesn't earn these things with his/her behavior, take them away. If the bad behavior keeps up, sell his/her possessions and give the money to the poor.

Make sure your kids understand that any and all privileges are tied to their behavior. You'll love them, feed them, clothe them, and shelter them regardless, but if they want Wii, they'll have to earn it with their behavior and attitude. No back-talking mannerless kid should ever own anything awesome like that.

If your kid misbehaves in school, back up the school's disciplinary action with an even more severe one of your own. Your kid has disgraced your family with his/her behavior; be sure they understand that. If your kid breaks a law and calls you from the police station, I'm of two minds: if your kid is sixteen or more, let him spend the night in jail. If your kid is under sixteen, scare the living shit out of him with your anger (verbal only) and put him to work to raise any bail money you put out, or to replace or fix anything he might have vandalized or broken. Don't pay for that stuff yourself; you didn't do it. Let the little vandal who thought he was so cool pay for it. Loan him the money if you must, but make bloody sure he pays it back. With interest. Knowing ahead of time that this will happen might be a pretty good deterrent. Coming down consistently and hard on all major infractions before anything like this happens can be a pretty good indicator to a smart kid that he'd better not get into any really big trouble, too. Of course, a really smart kid knows better in the first place. Oh, and don't fall for the tears. Don't be afraid to show disgust; there are many behaviors for which disgust is the proper reaction.

I cannot stress enough that if you want your kid to believe you mean it about decent behavior, you have to exhibit it yourself. If Mommy or Daddy can't keep it in or out of their pants, why expect Junior and Missy to think it's important either? If Mommy or Daddy drinks or smokes or does drugs, how can they justify forbidding such things to the kids? Cussing, swearing, etc? How do you think kids learn to speak? Tiny little kindergarteners often have the nastiest mouths in the school; they're fresh from home and they talk just like Mommy and Daddy.

If you cheat on your taxes, or laugh about how lucky you are to have gotten too much change at the checkout, don't be surprised when your kid cheats on tests and tells lies.

Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's paying for it. Otherwise, serve what parents used to serve for dinner every night: "take it or leave it." Let them get hungry enough and they'll eat it. If they cry at the table, send them to their rooms.

Snacks are only for kids who ate dinner.

Don't be afraid to hug your kids and show them affection. One way to show affection is to be consistent with your rules, and to not have too many. A few, all about good behavior, and consistent enforcement and role models, and I'm thinking the nation would improve.

Above all, the parents are in charge. Don't delegate your authority to your children; they'll abuse it. YOU decide what tv shows they may watch. YOU limit their video games. YOU tell them when it's bedtime. YOU make them do their homework. And if they do not obey you, YOU make sure they're sorry.

And, as important as consistent rules and insistence on good behavior are, it is as important to be lenient on some things as it is to be unrelenting on others. Hair length? Not important. Hair clean? Not negotiable. Pick out your own clothes? Sure. Deliberately choose something not allowed by parent? Money wasted, and he/she will wear the old ones until money is earned to replace them. Didn't do homework? Get a zero. Didn't study? Fail test. Got a B instead of A? Not important. Forgot jacket because he's a child? Forgiveable. Lost third jacket this winter at age fourteen? Start saving up allowance. Got a C in citizenship on report card? CONSEQUENCES. Got a C in math? Help kid study harder, but no biggie.

In the old days, parents and teachers worried about untucked shirts and gum and the occasional bully and windows broken by stray baseballs. Now, parents and teachers worry about guns and violence and drugs and alcohol and pregnancy and predators and gangs.

. . . all of which wouldn't be much of a problem if everybody chose to behave themselves in the first place.

And why do people misbehave in the first place? Because they get by with it, that's why. Schools are afraid of parents and parents are afraid their kids won't love them any more if they don't rule the roost, and OH my GOODNESS, their SELF ESTEEM, blah blah blah hooey.

Why don't we as a nation rise up and insist on good behavior, and severe consequences when behavior isn't good, for people of all ages! And no, I don't think it makes any difference what kind of background someone comes from. Right is right, and wrong is wrong.

Why, no, I don't think self-esteem means anything unless every bit of it is earned. Why, do you? Really? Self-esteem for being born? Hahahahahahahahahahaha

Oh, and your kids are laughing, too. You're not fooling anybody but yourself.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:31 AM | |


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