On top of the overwhelming responsibilities, they must carry around fear of punishments for things no adults would ever be punished for. And for what?
No parent ever wants to see their child fail or become an unproductive member of society. This fear of what our children will become fuels our daily parenting choices and styles. And the children are the ones who pay for these fears. The worry that our children will turn to crime has us punishing them any time we consider their behavior less than perfect.
A child is spanked because they did not clean their room when they were first asked.
A child is given a time out because they rolled their eyes when their parent asked them a question.
A child is spanked because they cried when they were upset about a decision they had no part in making.
A child has a toy taken away because they said no to something they did not want to do.
A child is punished because their attitude was deemed inappropriate by their parent.
When was the last time you were punished for any of the above? When was the last time someone brought physical harm to you when you did not clean your house, when you did not have the correct attitude or when you chose not to do something you did not want to do? Were you arrested? Were you hit? Were you even fined?
Many parents claim that this is the way children learn the consequences of the “real world.” But in what world does the law require us to have a perfect attitude 100% of the time? In what world are we arrested for not cleaning our home or putting our stuff away on someone else’s schedule? In what world are the punishments as severe as we dole out to our children regularly?
Our fears that our children will be law-breakers or nuisances to society have us actually punishing them for things that no adult would consider a crime. We are so worried about how our children will turn out that we punish them for simply being human.
As a society, we seem to have reached a point where punishing your child is first nature while asking yourself why you are doing it is an afterthought, if it occurs at all. Instead of looking at the end result or the motivation behind our own actions, we simply haul back and swat, telling ourselves it is for the best, without fully knowing whether or not it is.
If you spank, take away belongings or put your child in time out as punishment, perhaps it is time to look at what you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to teach them about real life consequences? If so, is the behavior they are exhibiting something that would actually produce such severe consequences to an adult?
Think about putting yourself in that situation. If you talked back to your spouse, would they slap you? If you didn’t clean your house for a month, would it produce a fine? If you were not in a positive mood or expressed a negative emotion, would you be imprisoned on someone else’s time schedule?
The reality is that you would not. None of these human behaviors are crimes. None of them produce such harsh punishments. So why are you treating your child this way? This is certainly not going to prepare them for the “real world” because the reality is that the “real world” is nothing like the childhood we create.