Parents who do not discipline their children, either because they do not know how or they cannot be bothered, do an injustice to society. They are turning out individuals who do not respect any rules, people or who feel they will always get their way.
A young set of parents came with with a seven year old boy who was given to throwing tantrums and beating his mother if he does not get his way. The mother was finding it increasingly difficult to handle her child. The father works in another country and comes in once in 3-4 months. It depends on his projects. So basically the parenting is fully left to the mother.
The son is fine when the father is around, he follows his instructions. With the mother the story is different. If he does not like any instructions given by his mother, he either ignores it or gives her a rude reply. Beyond this, he hits her and calls her names. Mind you, he is only seven!
To motivate him to study, his father on one of his visits suggested he write down the correct answers to questions he made mistakes in during his recent examination. Once this exercise is done, and the father sees his work, the father would sign his (son’s) report card. This is to make the boy relearn the correct answers and remember not to repeat the mistakes. The young boy is dragging his work. He keeps threatening his mother and insist she sign the card. The father is set to leave for his work abroad and the boy has still not completed his work.
The mother wanted to know how to handle this as the father was leaving. The boy has refused to go to school, till his report card is signed. I suggested she not comply to his threat. Unless he does his share of work, she does not sign. The father would have left. When the school authorities call for information, she can state the reason. If she gives in now, she cannot reign him in another time. He is adamant and wants his way. I did suggest, she could give in and sign. It is her choice. And she faces the consequences later. The boy will learn he needs to be adamant a while longer, ultimately he will have his way.
They are a well to do family. No too much pressure on studies, most material comforts are there. The children, (he has an older brother), are well taken care of. The younger boy does not want to buckle down to any discipline. And discipline is essential for a responsible upbringing.
Parents need to understand their roles. They are there to guide, nurture and shower affection. They also have the role of imparting discipline. They need to teach their children to have a healthy respect for rules, authority and especially parents. He does not respect her, he hits her. He will soon grow up thinking he can get his way with all women, all he has to do is show some physical strength.
When parents do not discipline children, either because they do not know how, or they cannot be bothered, they are turning not misfits into society. They are turning out adults into society who do not respect anything or anybody. Why should society bear the brunt of inadequate parenting?
I reminded the mother the futility of beating. Physical punishment will not really help, nor is it necessary. If her son refuses to go to school, he can stay at home. Only he will not have access to any entertainment. She restricts his access to television, story books and his games set. He can entertainment himself. She can also remind him of missed lessons, fun in the school, his friends, and the fact that final examinations are around the corner. The sooner he completes his work, the sooner she will sign his report card.
Once he does his work, he needs to be hugged and thanked. He can be appreciated for having completed his work. This will teach him that he is loved, his misbehavior is not being tolerated. He can be made to understand imposing rules does hurt his mother too. But it is being done for his good. These rules will help him function in society as a mature adult.
Since the mother is doing most of the parenting, she does have a tough time. She needs to know she has to be consistent with discipline, not give in because she sees her son hurting. A short time hurt and pain is better than some long term damage. He could end up with interpersonal complications, or even come in contact with the law in a negative fashion.
He is an intelligent boy, and thinks on his feet fast. Only he is not able to accept rules. He has a hard time with them. So he has to be taught to respect rules, sometimes the hard way. Children all need rules and structure. These form their roots in life. So whether they like it or not, they need to be taught how to follow rules. Discipline is the key, not punishment.