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I once asked my sister-in-law why her 3 year old daughter didn't own a dress. She told me her mother made her wear dresses all the time so she wasn't going to do that too her daughter. What she didn't realize was she was doing the same thing to her daughter as her mother did to her. In her attempt to not be like her mother, she went to the opposite extreme. Her daughter, now 22, prefers to wear dresses and always dresses her daughters in dresses.

We know that it is important to stop the cycle of violence, for example, when parents are abusive. Unfortunately abused children often abused their children. With social acknowledgment of child abuse it has become more common for the abused child to go to the other extreme and allow their children to grow up undisciplined in their attempt to not abuse them.

If I hear another parent in their phony sweet voice tell their little monster who is physically hurting another kid to be nice that we don't do that kind of thing, I think I'm going to puke.

Our parents (we the baby boomers) went through depression, W.W.II, the Korean War, serious illnesses, a lot of struggles and deprivations. Mothers spend hours cooking and cleaning, while fathers worked hard, many at physically demanding jobs.

They wanted to make it easier for their children, they didn't want their children to have to go through the hardships they had to endure. The American dream was to send their children to College which was supposed to help them afford a better life then they had.

They also were strict disciplinarians, basically honest and respectful of authority and elders.

Needless to say, the old pendulum had to swing in the opposite direction with a vengeance. Due to the fact that that someone will always take advantage of a situation, we got the VietNam war. War is good for the economy, society had accepted the death toll of W.W.II as necessary, less for the joke of Korea, but any doubts were kept quietly behind closed doors.

The baby boomer, having been protected from the world our parents lived through were not going to sit by quietly and accept what those in authority were doing. They rebelled. It is well and good that they did. Rebelling against "The War", rebelling against segregation, rebelling against sexism set American Society many decades ahead of where it would have been if they had just sat back and let time make its slow changes.

They were not deprived, even the poorest had the basics that did not exist during the depression, women were freed from the drudgery of household chores by modern conveniences, medical research had brought miracle cures and preventions against polio, thypoid and other diseases that plagued our parents and theirs before them, College was was accessible to those who's parents could only dream about it, many of the most physically demanding jobs had been replaced by machines, freeing up the workforce to pursue more mentally challenging work.

In one generation, This Country, over the rest of the world had managed to leap into the future with incredible speed.

I stress "This Country", because that is a very important point to understand about what has happened.

If you look at the history of the rest of the world that has been inhabited for thousands of years you will see where they became stagnant and bogged down in their development because of their ties to their past. Look at England, in the 21st century and still "under the rule" of an ancient system of being governed by people who are in authority due to the accident of birth rather than by ability. Countries next door to each other are still fighting over religious differences. Governments, centuries if not thousands of years old and ancient religions are not conducent to the technical advancement of their populations. It take decades, if not centuries for changes to be allowed to be made in these countries.

The powers that be are afraid their power will be taken away if they allow their people the freedom we experience in The USA.

It is the freedom that our country is based upon that has allowed us to break away from the way our parents did things and think for ourselves. We are free to try new things, free to achieve what others think is impossible, free to develop our individual talents and abilities, free to have our own beliefs.

To think that there majority of the world still exists with beliefs that women are inferior, that people still live in tents scratching out an existence in arid desert lands, that people still live as their ancestors did a thousand years ago. The more control a government puts on its people the less they grow. The only thing that grows in those places with any amount of freedom is corruption.

Unfortunatly the freedoms we are given and the pendulum that has swung from our parents to the way we believed have caused a newer generation without discipline and respect for others. The sad thing is that the most undisciplined and least respectful who have gone to extremes are now demanding respect themselves. I expect it will not be long before the pendulum starts swinging back in the other direction. Generally people are sick and tired of all of the "in your face" and "I can do what I want as long as I can get away with it" and " I want what I want and I want it now" and "I don't have to be responsible for my actions" and "to hell with the rules they don't apply to me" and the rest of the attitudes that are the result of all children who have grown up without bearing responsibility for their actions and who have not experienced discipline in any form, much less the extreme form that was the norm from our parents. It is just a matter of the extreme swinging of the pendulum that is part of what goes along with the freedom that this allows. Our freedom has allowed so many positive results. Unfortunately it comes with a price. It has it's downside. We have the freedom to achieve so many good things, but it has also allowed the freedom for many mistakes to be made. When we end up with so much of our population in jail as a form of discipline, then it's time to set standards of discipline and enforce it when they are children.

Of course we should never go back to the days when children were property and were beaten freely. But all people, especially in a free society should be taught responsibility for their actions. Children need discipline, they need to know that limits exist and that there will be repercussions if they go past those limits. Unfortunately if parents refuse to hold their children responsible for their actions, then the society that is suffering from the actions of those undisciplined children will turn to the Government to set and enforce the rules.

The days of it being politically incorrect to speak out against criminal behavior in children are coming to an end. If their parents choose to allow their children the freedom to act as they please then the children will pay the price for those actions.

The laws we now have prevent parents from physically punishing their children, it does not prevent them from disciplining them.

The pendulun will swing the opposite way and children will end up being overpunished and punished with extreme methods again unless we try to come to a happy medium soon.

-- Cherri (, July 08, 2000


An excellent post, Cherri, much different than the usual "anything goes" posts I read here. Fortunately for the world, there are some of us left who will kick butt, figuratively speaking, instead of kissing their spoild bratts butts.

Ladies. Men. Tell your older kids to pull up their britches, turn their hats around, cover up the tatoos, and go get a job. And pull that metal outta your heads....

-- FactFinder (, July 08, 2000.


I'm a strong advocate of personal responsibility. I never spanked my children or otherwise physically punished them. TO ME, personal responsibility starts VERY early, and includes decisions on what to wear. My oldest had a red dress that she could manage herself. It was her favorite, and she wore it to pre-school every day there for a while. I think your sister-in-law objected to her mom treating her like a doll. My mom did much the same thing, and I reacted to it as well.

In line with my personal responsibility advocacy, I felt that I should never do for my children what they could do for themselves. If they could take a crayon to a wall, they could surely scrub it off....and they DID. I bought or made clothing that could be managed by little fingers. By the age of 2, they could all dress themselves, make their own peanut-butter/jelly sandwiches, set a table, wash dishes, etc. By the age of 6, they could handle personal hygiene, hair-brushing, etc. on their own. By 7 they were doing their own laundry, and helping bake, cook, clean. Young children love to keep busy. I felt it MY personal responsibility to teach THEM personal responsibility.

Consistency, IMO, is the most important trait for a parent. The limits must be firmly established early on. If a park visit is offered as soon as the house is cleaned, there's no renigging because the parent is tired, and there's no going if the children didn't meet their end of the bargain. If either happens, we've encouraged distrust.

We talked early and often about what how other folks lived. When a friend's brother was arrested for burglary, one daughter told me that her parents were having a hard time arranging for bail money. I asked, "Why would his parents want to bail him out?" He did the crime and now he does the time." That same family had two girls who bore children in their teens. The mother raised the grandchildren. My other daughter asked if I would raise her child if she became pregnant. I simply said, "Why would I do that? *I*'m not the one who had unprotected sex."

I think the early lessons carry a lot of weight, personally. By the time our kids are 16 or so, we should be trusting their judgment based on the framework we've taught. We don't have to agree with their judgment, but I think we must allow them to further their decision-making skills with little interference. This means that if they're not working, THEY suffer the consequences in that they have no money for gas to go anywhere, new clothes, etc.

-- Anita (, July 09, 2000.


Consistency, IMO, is the most important trait for a parent. The limits must be firmly established early on.

That is very true. Children need it or they can become confused over what is expected of them.

If a park visit is offered as soon as the house is cleaned, there's no renigging because the parent is tired, and there's no going if the children didn't meet their end of the bargain. If either happens, we've encouraged distrust.

Yep! And it also teaches them to renig, they learn so much more from example than a lot of parents realise. It also teaches them fairness, if we expect them to stick to their part, we must stick to ours.

If an adult interrupts one of my children I stop them and let the child finish, as I expect my children not to interrupt others. This is only fair.

I think the early lessons carry a lot of weight, personally.

Teaching starts from birth. If their basic needs are not met they learn habits that will get those needs met. My youngest was nursed, I would feed her before getting the other three kids up for school. She like to use me for a pacifier, I had to put her doewn to get them ready and off and she learned that I would not nurse when she was not hungry, so she only "asked" to be fed when she was :o)

I really like the way you explained the personal responsibility of children, it's too bad so many parents don't nderstand the need to start their children off young in this, when they try to change a learned bahavior later,it doesn't always take.

By the time our kids are 16 or so, we should be trusting their judgment based on the framework we've taught. We don't have to agree with their judgment, but I think we must allow them to further their decision-making skills with little interference.

That was the hardest for me to do, allow them to make their own decisions (and mistakes) after I had taught them to make them. It was hard, but I knew I had to.

What I don't nderstand is how parents can make excuses for their children's actions. But then that in itself is the problem isn't it? The acceptance of excusses.

One of my strongest areas in teaching my children was honesty. I explained that I know they were not born knowig what was right and wrong, that if they did something wrong to tell me and they would not be "punished" for it. I would talk to them and explain why it was wrong and other points to make sure they were clear about it, and let them know that now that they knew the facts that they would be suffer the consequences if they did it again. This has worked out very well and they are honest in the same way with other people and at school. They have earned the respect of others for being honest for their mistakes.

My foster daughter would lay on the floor and scream when she didn't get her way, It had worked everywhere she had lived. Not with me, I would even walk over her and continue with what I was doing. Soon she learned I didn't care if she did it, even in the grocery store. Not that I took her to the store much in the beginning, once she pulled it there I refused to take her with me for a while, she was okay for a time, did it, stayed home etc until she stopped completely.

-- Cherri (, July 10, 2000.

Great stuff, Cherri and Anita. Thank you.

For now, I'd like to probe one issue that was touched on: The reneging of parental promises.

There were many times when I made promises that I thought were inappropriate -- you know, spur of the moment things; sometimes when I was on an emotional high. And I almost never took them back, no matter how hard or inappropriate they were to carry out -- BECAUSE I had promised them (i.e., I wanted my child to see me as trustworthy and consistent).

We know (or should know) that, as parents, it's crucial to teach our kids the importance of keeping our promises (trustworthiness) and being consistent. And it's always best when we teach them by example, as well as by word.

Fine moral principles, these things be.

The main thing to keep in mind here, and the lesson I've learned, is to never make promises without very careful consideration, and when you're at an emotional equilibrium. But once we've made a promise, if we decide that the promise was hasty and irrational, or is otherwise extremely impractical to carry out, I think it's ok -- as seldom as we possibly can, though -- to admit to our child that we made a mistake by the promise, and then renege. But our job wouldn't be done without explaining to our child how the promise was made, that we erred, that it's human to err, and why we felt we had to take it back.

But, again, any reneging should be extremely rare -- if not, it's a sure sign that we're being pretty loose with our promises to begin with -- and time for some introspection and a reevaluation.

That being said, I know there will always be very difficult judgment calls on when or if we should renege on a promise. But we have to start at the beginning, before the promise is made -- or our credibility -- as well as our child's opportunity to carry forward a crucial moral principle -- could be damaged.

-- eve (, July 11, 2000.

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