Walk into any playground or classroom in America and the most common phrase you'll hear parents and teachers say is "Use your words!"
I hear this phrase EVERYWHERE. Essentially, it's a mantra that enforces the idea that children should never hit or push one another. Nonviolence should be practiced at all times under every circumstance. And there is no problem that cannot be solved by open communication.
Want to know what I think? I think it's a bullshit mantra that only helps raise the next generation of pussies.
You want to know what I teach the Peanut? That actions have consequences. That one must always take responsibility for one's own actions. That words are sometimes not enough. And that, frequently in life, people need to be taught tough lessons.
Don't get me wrong. My daughter is a sweetheart. She's kind. She's caring. And she's extremely empathetic. I don't encourage her to go around indiscriminately hitting people. However, I do teach her not to take shit from anyone. Whenever another child pushes her, I tell her to politely tell that child that you don't like being pushed. But if he does it again, she has my full permission to shove his ass to the ground as hard as she can.
I guess the parenting mantra I'm trying to reenforce with her is, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
Because I'm such an easy-going guy, people are often surprised when they hear my philosophy on this subject. Last week, I was at daycare with the Peanut when an older boy came over and grabbed a toy out of the Peanut's hand. When she kindly asked for it back, the boy pushed her. The Peanut then turned to the boy and said, "Please don't push me. I don't like being pushed."
The boy's mother witnessed the whole thing and gently admonished her son, saying that it wasn't nice to push one's friends. What does the kid do? He hits the Peanut and pushes her again! Before the boy's mother can do anything, I calmly turn to my daughter and say, "You know what to do, kiddo."
The Peanut immediately runs up to the boy and shoves him so hard, he falls down on the ground. Predictably, he starts bawling his ass off. The mother looks at me with shock and yells at me, "how can you tell your daughter to push my child?"
I calmly reply, "My daughter very politely asked your son to stop pushing her. You yourself told him to stop pushing her. And what does your son do? Not only does he push her again but he also hit her. Do you think your way was working?"
At this point, I turn to the boy and say, "Are you ever going to push the Peanut again?"
Still choking back tears and clinging to his mother, he says "No. Never."
Five minutes later, the two kids were hugging each other and playing in the toy kitchen.
I don't know why, as parents, we've become so overprotective of our children. We coddle them. We hover over them. We don't allow them fail or to learn life's lessons on their own. And most importantly, we fail to discipline them. It's almost as if we're afraid of doing so.
As I said earlier, the most important lessons I want to teach the Peanut are that (1) actions have consequences, and (2) you should always accept responsibility for your actions. Somehow this seems to have faded from our nation's consciousness.
Look around us and you'll see adults everywhere who no longer hold themselves personally responsible for anything! From the adult who sues for wrongful termination because the employee manual didn't say that Xeroxing your bunghole was against company rules to the politician who blames his embezzling funds on the fact that he had an undiagnosed allergic reaction to mangoes, you'll notice that we've become a nation of pussies.
Don't you think it's because we're raising our kids to BECOME pussies?
Back when I was a kid, you learned your lessons the hard way. If you mouthed off to the wrong guy, you got your ass kicked. You sucked it up and walked it off. Nobody gave a rat's ass about your self-esteem or your gentle demeanor. You made a decision and that decision got your ass kicked.
That's an important lesson to learn in life, don't you think?