Thursday, June 01, 2006

Juvenile Delinquents

I was raised by an iron fist. You screwed up, or even THOUGHT about screwing up, and your ass was grass. My Dad ruled the house with fear. He's a Southern boy, raised by the palm of his Daddy's hand (assuming a green switch wasn't available), and he raised us the same way. I can't tell you how many times I couldn't sit down because of the bruises on my ass and the back of my legs due to spankings. We behaved to avoid the consequences- but we also behaved because we knew right from wrong BECAUSE of the consequences. I rarely made the same mistake twice. My brother and I grew up in fear of our Dad. I didn't want to do that to my kids. I want them to respect me, and fear the consequences... not fear me AND the consequences. I want them to do the right thing simply because they know it's the right thing to do.

When I was about 21, my parents took us out to dinner for their anniversary. During the meal, my Dad said "I'm sorry. I wasn't a very good father." I didn't know what to say. I couldn't say "Oh, sure you were Dad! You were the BEST!".... because he wasn't. My Mom said "I tried to be a good mother". Dad shot back with "WELL, I DIDN'T TRY TO BE BAD FATHER- BUT I WAS!" I remember sitting there dumbfounded, not sure what to say or do. I know he tried, so I said something like "We never try to do our worst- we just don't always know what is best." It's been 18 years or so since that conversation but I can still remember the sick feeling it left in my stomache. I can see the pain- and courage- in my Dad's face when he said that, and the sadness around the table as we sat there in agreement. The meal went on, but I don't remember anything else after that moment. It just sorta overtook everything else that was said that night.

I don't want my kids to fear me. I want them to respect me, and respect authority in general. I want them to know it's wrong to bully someone, or steal from a store. I want them to know these things instinctively, and not have to stop, think about their actions, and consider the consequences- because they already know the right (and wrong) thing to do. I wish all parents had the same belief.

ALa wrote a piece today about violence in Philly schools. ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.... not the junior or senior high schools. In the report, "teachers told the NBC 10 News Investigators that on a regular basis they face incidents like urinating on bathroom walls, children humping each other, sexually exposing themselves and throwing scissors, desks and chairs on a regular basis." It also reports gang violence and sex in the bathrooms. IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!

Yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer had an article about a movie, called Hard-Wear, produced by various city law enforcement agencies aimed at curbing youth gun violence in Cincinnati. "City Solicitor Rita McNeil said that when she worked as a magistrate in Juvenile Court around 1994, the average age was 12. 'Now it's 8 or 9,' she said." EIGHT OR NINE? HOLY CRAP. That's how old Thomas is!

I know I've written before about how difficult Thomas can be, but I simply cannot imagine him involved in gun or gang violence. Actually, I have a hard time picturing ANY child in elementary school involved in that kind of thing. When I think about it, it makes me sick to imagine what their homelife must be like.

My Dad may have been a controlling, fear-inspiring parent... but I didn't end up in jail and neither did my brother. Surely there's a happy medium somewhere between the two extremes.


Post a Comment

<< Home