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Parenting and Spanking

I was hardly ever spanked

Posted by bob76 on 2018-10-13 19:00:25

Further to the motorcycle incident:

I don't remember specific instances of my talking back to my parents or arguing with them except for one terrible argument when I was about 20 and home on break from college. It was a Sunday morning and I decided that I wasn't going to go to church with the rest of the family. My father said that as long as I was living under his roof I would have to abide by his rules. I said in that case I was leaving and wouldn't be coming back. The only problem was that my parents lived about three miles from the bus station (I didn't have a car or a driver's license) and I didn't have enough money on me for cab fare. I left the room to see if I could borrow $5 from my brother "Sam", but at that point my parents gave in and said I was old enough to decide for myself whether to go to church.

Yes, it was emotional blackmail, and I'm sure it must have hurt my dad and mom. They were very religious, and had been missionaries in Rhodesia. My life might have turned out very differently if they hadn't given in. I was stubborn (maybe because I hadn't been properly spanked?) and I'm sure that if necessary I would have walked the three miles to the bus station and either found a way to stay in college or dropped out and found a job with whatever skills I had if my parents had cut me off. Fortunately it didn't come to that.

Getting back to when I was 16 and was punished for letting "Jimmy" ride the motorcycle. At that age I still acknowledged my parents' authority over me. If my dad had told me that I was going to be whipped I would have been shocked and I might have tried to negotiate some other punishment, but after that I'm pretty sure I would have done what he told me and let him whip me, as you did at that age. The difference is that I would have resented it very much and it would probably have spoiled my relationship with my father, who is now looking good and doing O.K. at 85. I'll be visiting him for Christmas, as usual.

Bob

Posted by flash gordon on 2018-10-20 11:42:00

Bob,

We have some interesting similarities. Like you, I was hardly ever spanked. I was also one of 5 kids, 4 boys and a girl.

My parents weren't particularly strict, though they did expect a certain standard of behavior. I got a few light spankings as a kid, under 10, and my mom hit me with her wooden spoon a couple of times when we were really driving her crazy. The main punishment was not being allowed to ride my bike or watch TV, or having to stay in my room for a while, but even those punishments were pretty rare. As a kid, I was not punished a lot at home, and through elementary school, I was almost never punished at school either.

Around the time I was 13 or 14, I started to develop a rebel streak and to find the idea of doing things that could get me into trouble appealing, for whatever reason. The first manifestation was probably throwing snowballs at cars. For a winter or two, this was a lot of fun, being with a couple of friends, hiding behind a snowbank and then pelting an unsuspecting car as it drove by. No trouble ever came of that, but it was fun.

Then for a while I had a fascination with trying to damage road signs. I tried to bend them, and hit at them really hard trying to knock them over. I was mostly unsuccessful in my attempts to damage road signs, but I managed to mess up a couple of them in a minor way.

At that point, I wasn't friends with troublemakers at school, but I started to watch the kids who got into some trouble and my reaction turned from wanting to make sure that didn't happen to me into fascination with the whole idea of doing things that were against the rules and then being able to withstand the penalty that came from it, and laughing about it afterwards as they did, rather than being held in check by fear.

So over time, slowly and gradually, I started edging toward spending some time hanging out with kids who were inclined to get into a little trouble, nothing major, rather than the really good kids.

None of this really registered at home. Past the age of about 14, I don't remember ever being punished by my parents in any way. When I learned to drive, my grandmother gave me a car and I also had a part time job, so I had a lot of freedom. Home was a place to do my homework, sleep, eat meals, etc., but I had a lot going on outside of home between school, work and friends and my parents never interfered with any of it.

Of course, my behavior wasn't perfect, but my parents weren't explicitly aware of anything I was doing wrong. I had no incidents with the car, other than a minor fender bender that wasn't my fault. I didn't drive too fast at that time because the car couldn't handle it -- I'm a much faster driver now. In the last 2 years of high school, I started drinking alcohol a good amount, but I didn't take any drugs. By that point, I had mostly outgrown my previous fascination with damaging road signs, though I still did a little of that sort of thing when I was drinking. Somehow I was lucky and never got into any trouble for it, though I easily could have, and maybe I would have ended up in court and been fined or assigned to community service.

But in my later teen years, my main source of punishment was the school administration, not my parents. My school was pretty strict about enforcing rules, but the penalties were a bit underwhelming when applied repeatedly, and most of us became numb to them. I spent a healthy number of hours serving detention after school, either just sitting there or less often, doing work details or punish assignments. Here again, my parents had no involvement since I never did anything serious enough for the school to call them and I had so much else going on that I didn't normally go straight home from school anyway at that point, so it was pretty easy to camouflage the fact that I had had to stay after school for disciplinary reasons.

In my older teens, I developed a fascination for damaging public phones, but never acted on it. I saw cases where people put M-80s in the coin return, or ripped out the receivers, and I really wanted to do something like that, but I decided against it.

My only trouble with the law has been traffic violations. I have a heavy foot and like to speed when conditions allow it, and that has led me to some roadside meetings with Johnny Law. My reaction to this has been the same as when I got into trouble in school -- amusement and continuation of the behavior after being punished for it. The nexus with my parents here is that one time, when I was still very young and living with my parents, I had two outstanding speeding tickets at the same time. I was getting letters from 2 different courts about my violation and the penalty, and I was at great pains to intercept the mail before my parents saw any of the letters. I went to one court to pay my fine in person so I wouldn't get another letter from them. But here again, I got into a little trouble and managed to conceal it from my parents.

I like your story about being stubborn and not wanting to go to church, and your parents relenting and letting you make your own choices. It seems that they were good parents and you turned out well. While I think that hitting kids can sometimes be justified if done properly, I don't consider it to be an indispensable tool of child rearing that must be used. I also don't think it's such a terrible thing for kids to make their own decisions and get into some minor trouble when they're young. It's a good learning experience, and it's also good to be able to stand up to authority and push back against rules. Not all rules are good and not all rules make sense.

Posted by bob76 on 2018-10-20 13:56:54

Flash,

Didn't you say that you were slapped sometimes, or am I thinking of someone else? That's something that never happened to me.

How old are your siblings compared to you? Are you all still on friendly terms and do you see them a lot? In my family I'm the oldest and my sister is the youngest, five and a half years younger than me. It's interesting reading about the effect that birth order has on personality. As the oldest I suppose I was in a privileged position. On the other hand, I noticed that my parents loosened up on enforcing family rules as we got older. My sister got away with things as a teenager that I would never have dreamed of.

I usually tried to follow the rules, and my rebel streak, such as it was, didn't develop until I was in college and wanted to be independent of my parents (the not-going-to-church episode that you referred to). Your habit of throwing snowballs at cars reminds me of something that happened when I was visiting my sister several years ago. She has two kids, a boy and a girl. At the time of my visit I think my nephew was about 12 and my niece was about 10. They and some of their friends threw rocks at a passing car! The car was old and beat up so I guess they figured that a few more nicks and scratches wouldn't hurt. The car stopped and my nephew and niece's friends scattered. I went out to talk to the driver. I apologized for the actions of the children and said that we would make sure it didn't happen again. He seemed to be satisfied with that and drove away.

If I'd done something like that I'm pretty sure I would have been spanked or at least grounded. My sister and I gave her kids a lecture about being nice to other people and respecting their property, but other than that they weren't punished at all. You'd think they'd be spoiled getting away with stuff like that, but on the whole they were pretty well behaved. I often babysat them when they were younger; along with other times, that was my annual anniversary present to my sister and b-i-l.

It's amazing how you were able to keep your parents from finding out about your detentions, speeding tickets and whatever else was going on at the time. It sounds like you were really good at that.

I've likewise gotten a fair number of speeding tickets over the years. Luckily for me I haven't gotten any points on my license because I've always gotten the tickets while out of state. One time it was a little embarrassing because I got a ticket while driving with one of my brothers and his family in the car. At least the kids got a practical lesson in how to be polite to a police officer when you're pulled over.

I agree with you about CP not being necessary. I don't agree with Rick's father's policy of punishing him every time he got punished at school. Isn't one punishment enough? To me the main thing is to teach kids not to hurt other people. I'd be more tolerant of a kid breaking a rule that seems arbitrary and can't really be justified.

Bob

Posted by flash gordon on 2018-10-20 18:42:26

Bob,

I was slapped once or twice when my behavior was so atrocious that my parents just lost control. But slapping was not a practice that they normally used.

I am the oldest of my siblings. We are also four boys and a girl, with the girl being the youngest. I think it's really true that even with the same two parents, every kid grows up in a different family, so to speak. The family my younger siblings grew up in was somewhat different than the one I grew up in. Over the years, my parents changed, getting less rigid and more open about things, my mother in particular. Also, there was more money by the time the younger kids were approaching full maturity, so that made a difference in how some things were handled (though we were far from poor when I was growing up, by my parents did have to be more careful with money during that period). I think I was probably better off overall; things really went off the rails with my sister in particular, while I was kept more to the straight and narrow.

I would never have thrown rocks at a car. I chose snowballs because I knew they would do no real damage, just breaking apart when they hit the car. When a kid does something like that, it's really important to impress upon him that it's really wrong, and why. At different ages, different methods are used. I think it's worse when an older kid does something like that, because they are more aware of how harmful it can be.

As far as concealing the detentions and speeding tickets, it really wasn't that hard. While it sounds like a lot of detentions when we talk here, when you consider that there were 180 school days per year, and I had detention maybe 10-15 of them in the last 2 years of high school, that left most of my days detention-free. I usually didn't go right home after school anyway, since I normally went to hang out someplace with friends for a while after school, so getting home late from school was normal in that time whether I had detention or not. It was harder to conceal in my first 2 years because I had no car then and usually went right home after school normally, but I only had maybe 3 or 4 detentions per year those first 2 years. That was pretty much the baseline minimum, since my school gave them out pretty liberally and even with good behavior, it was hard to go a full year without getting a least a couple of detentions. 10-15 detentions per year was not considered out of the ordinary, and they didn't start calling parents in until you were on track to getting about 25-30 detentions per year, which I never was. So it was really no great feat that my parents didn't become aware of my detentions. I'm sure they would not have been pleased if they had known, especially my mother, and I probably would have been punished in some way, most likely grounded or denied driving privileges.

The only time I was really worried was when I went out one day for a liquid lunch senior year and got too drunk to go back to school, missing all my afternoon classes. While I had gotten clipped a handful of times for cutting a single class at a time that year, I knew this would be considered much worse, so I had some trepidation when I went to homeroom that next morning, waiting to be summoned to the dean's office. The summons came as expected, and I was almost relieved when he just loaded me up with a crapload of detentions but nothing more serious, like a suspension that would have meant a call to my parents. For almost the next two weeks, I had a standing appointment with him after school and he owned most of my afternoon. It was a real grind because it was at the time of year when the weather starts getting nice, and the last place I wanted to be was stuck in detention for so many days. But if you do the crime, you have to do the time, and I knew that I had messed up and deserved the punishment, and I accepted it in that spirit and was grateful that it wasn't something worse.

As far as the speeding tickets go, by then I was in my early 20s. I was still living at home to save money, but I was paying my own way, and I owned my own car and paid my own insurance. I'm not sure what they could have done to punish me if they had found out about the tickets, other than kick me out of the house, which I doubt they would have done over a couple of speeding tickets. I concealed those tickets from them out of embarrassment rather than fear of punishment. Had I gotten those tickets as a teenager, it would have been a much more serious matter, since I was still covered under their insurance and they most likely would have found out through the insurance company. I think also that if a minor gets a ticket, the parents get notified. So it was fortuitous that I waited until I was older to start accumulating traffic infractions.

That reminds me of another thing my friends and I used to do during that period. Sometimes we drove around late at night when there was nobody on the road, breaking as many laws as possible -- speeding, blowing past red lights, and going the wrong way up one-way streets. We were careful to make sure that nobody was around when we did it, and it was pretty fun. I never got caught for that. In those days before cameras, I used to run through toll booths without paying too, and never got caught for that either.

It's cool to come across a fellow habitual speeder...:) That's pretty funny that you got papered with relatives in the car. I have always been alone in the car when I have gotten tickets, and I like it better that way! I wouldn't mind getting a ticket with one of my male friends in the car with me, but with anybody else, it would be a bit embarrassing. I don't think Rick is a speeder and I doubt he approves of my speeding stories, but it's good to know you're a kindred spirit in that respect.

The funny thing is that even with all this, I am a law and order guy, and I believe that rules should be enforced and infractions punished, even if I am the violator myself. I've always been that way, and that's why I have never resented the relatively minor punishments that I have taken over the years, in school and beyond, and I have never blamed anybody but myself for having incurred those punishments.

I mostly agree with you that when a kid gets in trouble in school, one punishment is enough. I am not into hitting and if I had kids, I doubt I would be inclined to hit them unless they were really out of control and I was desperate to make an impression on them. As far as minor trouble in school, if the school punished them, I'd most likely leave it at that and not impose additional punishment. The only time I would impose further punishment is if the infraction was serious and I didn't think the punishment that the school imposed was sufficient to deter repetition of the behavior.

Posted by bob76 on 2018-10-20 20:08:09

Flash,

Regarding living with your parents when you were in your 20s, you should check out what I posted a few years ago on that subject at https://www.misterpoll.com/forums/104357/topics/149684/pg/2 and https://www.misterpoll.com/forums/104357/topics/165592.

The last time that I lived with my parents, as opposed to visiting them, was in the summer after my freshman year of college, when I was 18. It wasn't an experience that I wanted to repeat. As a college man I felt like an adult, yet I was being treated the same as my younger brothers, being assigned chores like washing dishes, cleaning the house etc. Matters came to a head at dinner because I refused to drink the milk that the rest of the family was drinking. My mom had started using powdered milk to save money, and I refused to touch the stuff. My father said that if I didn't like what was being served I could eat at McDonald's. I went out and bought my own private supply of milk. Later on I switched from milk to Diet Coke.

I would (almost) never purposely run red lights or go the wrong way down one way streets. Thank goodness you didn't cause an accident. When I first started driving (not counting a few earlier practice trips with my father when I was 16) I was careful not to exceed the speed limit because all I had was a learner's permit and I was driving alone without a licensed driver in the car! I was about 22 and through various circumstances I'd never gotten a full license. In hindsight I should have gone to driving school.

Bob