Discipline and Lessons Learned
A few years ago government stepped in and gave our kids the right to sue us if we spanked them. Although I did spank mine when they were younger, I also found other methods of discipline that had a more lasting effect. Being a single parent of four, 3 sons and a daughter, and at the time a full time working mother, I needed the leverage. I will give some examples:
My youngest son lost his shoes. He was about nine years old at the time and while rushing around trying to get the children ready for school, he informed me that he could not find his shoes. At that time I could only afford one pair of shoes per child so I sent him to school in his socks. The school called and told me I couldn't do that and I told them to feel free to purchase him another pair of shoes. They didn't of course but when he got home from school that evening, he went to the neighbors house and found the shoes he had left there and he never lost his shoes again.
One of my biggest challenges was getting the kids to keep their rooms clean. At the age of 14, my daughter decided to rebel when I told her to clean her room. She stormed out of the apartment and went to the swimming pool. In a little while she came back with a young man who looked to be about 20 and who sat down on the sofa while she went to her room. He said he understood we had an argument and that my daughter was going to stay with him for a while. I asked him if she told him what the disagreement was about and he said, "No".
I said that I had told her to clean all the garbage out of her room or find some other place to pile it and evidently his place was where she planned to pile it. He very quietly got up and eased out the front door and I never saw him again.
One of my sons brought a friend home when they were about 16 years old and they went down to the pool. In the meantime, I went to my sons room to put away some laundry and found an unopened bottle of 151 Rum sitting in his room. When they came back from the pool his friend came into the kitchen to ask if I had seen his bottle of rum. I told him that it was in the oven baking and we were going to have a wonderful rum cake. I also told him that I did not allow underage drinking in my home but I had never had a beer cake so if he would like to bring some beer over, we would give it a try. The boy almost cried but he never brought alcohol back to my home again.
One of my sons would do his homework but forget to take it to school. I was not aware of the problem until I got a call from his principal informing me that because he refused to take a whipping, he was in tenth grade at the time and thought he was too big, they were going to suspend him for ten days and they did not have "in school suspension".
I told the principal that he would love to be suspended for 10 days because while I was at work, he could run up and down the roads, make messes in the kitchen, sleep, watch television and play games all day. I told him that my son would probably love to be suspended for the rest of the school year.
The principal asked what I would suggest and I told him that they had toilets in the school that needed cleaning, floors that needed mopping, waste baskets to empty and windows to wash. I told him to put him to work for that ten days. He took my advice and put my son to work and he did such a good job that they hired him to stay after school two evenings a week and help clean. They would bring him a paycheck each month and when other kids asked why the county was paying him, he told them that they were paying him to come to school. The lesson did wonders for his memory and he never forgot to take his homework in again. The school liked my suggestion enough that they started using in school suspension with cleaning duties for other wayward students.
One of my sons got upset with me for telling him to clean his room and as he went down the hallway I heard him say, "When I get a new starter in my car, I'm out of here". I called a friend and traded him an old car that he wanted for a new starter installed in my sons car the next morning. My son cleaned his room and never said another word about leaving but I did hear him tell one of his friends, ""You don't bluff my mom".
My point is that when they are younger you can spank, use time out, grounding, taking away toys, etc. but when they get older sometimes you need to change your methods to suit the situation. In other words, let the punishment fit the crime. My children are all grown now, my daughter died as the result of an auto accident a few years ago but they all survived my method of raising them and without exception each of them has told me how much they appreciated all the things I had taught them. They also remembered all the millions of cookies and cupcakes I baked for their school parties, help with school projects, picnics in the park and the taxi service provided by mom.
You have to discipline but you can do it with love too.