Saturday, May 28, 2005

Raising Kids Like Free Range Chickens

I like stories like this:

And posts like this, which I got by backtracking off the other one:

Which brings me to my actual point -- the parents in question, the ones that think their kids ought to be allowed to impose upon the world.

I'm related to kids like this, which is all I plan to say about that, so I've got sympathy with Lauren & Flea, and I wholly agree with her pack -- kids ought not to be raised that way.

But here in Arkansas, folks hold an odd view: either, they believe, you must raise your kids as those folks do -- like free range chickens, with absolutely no discipline at all, allowing them to do whatever they will to the adults and other children around them (because after all, the other adults and the other children ought to be pleased to let little Paris or little Meredith slam a fire engine into their face, surely? Cute as little Pars is?), or, well, we have to whoop Waylen and Trisha, all the time, for everything.

If we don't spank* our kids, how can we ever expect them to learn how to behave? This is what my students propose to me in their argument essays, in great seriousness. There is, apparently, no other effective way to discipline children, except with belts and sticks. If I point out that evidence, including scientific studies, shows otherwise, they smile tolerently, claim their parents beat the daylight out of them, and they're just fine, aren't they?

When I pull out the earlier essays they have turned in, in which they have described lives of drug addiction, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, and bad relationships with abusive partners, they all get very pissed off. That has nothing to do with getting "spanked" when they were kids! Nothing! Why, if their parents hadn't whooped them, who knows where they'd be now!

"Yes," I like to say at that point. "Excellent point."

No, I don't really. I just want to. I try to never undermine my students' parents. Even when they ought to be undermined.

*Defined as beating the daylights out of them with a belt or a switch.

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