Don't give children a cookie, give them the look
Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:31 AM
Throughout the recent, rather heated gun-control debate following the massacre at Newtown, Conn. and several other "similar" incidents, a plethora of subjects have been broached in an attempt to understand the issue and what, if anything, can be done about it.
Banning assault weapons and large-volume ammunition magazines have both come to the fore during the debate, as well as background checks on someone trying to purchase a firearm, but we all know when all is said and done, the sick "phenomenon" of people killing people - lots of them - with guns will continue. Unfortunate, to be sure, but true nonetheless.
Proponents of gun control are convinced eliminating certain types of arms - especially the "non-hunting" versions - coupled with more extensive background checks would go a long way toward stopping the horrific mayhem.
On the other side of the fence, however, are those who insist guns are not the problem but rather the people who own them: "Guns don't kill people, bad people with guns are the ones slaughtering innocent human beings and no matter how many laws we may pass in an attempt to change that, it just won't happen."
They are adamant in their argument the right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is an American right that cannot and should not be diluted in any way. Some say they are willing to die to preserve it.
But one fact that was initially brought up in the discussion, but has since been swept under the rug, is how parenting or, perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof, has contributed to this extreme violence that seems to occur on a daily or weekly basis.
Some feel certain, and I am inclined to agree, that spoiling our children by ignoring their genuine emotional requirements and instead showering them with an endless array of "things" they may want but don't really need is at the heart of the issue. The result of such a detached approach to parenting is often an irresponsible, disrespectful child who has little or no concern for others and instead focuses his or her primary attention on satisfying personal cravings and desires. And what happens when they can't have what they want whenever they want? It's not hard to do the math.
Taken a step further, I'm convinced taking the "easy way out" by spoiling kids with every bauble known to man and woman is because parents don't want to deal with the stress and occasional turmoil that results from discipline. Instead, they avoid the setting of boundaries that tells the child, "You may be upset with me, but I'm the parent, I know what's best for you and, simply put, "No means no." Period. End of discussion.
Such discipline may result in a kid throwing a hissy fit or temper tantrum, but that's the price that must be paid in order to do what's right. As a wise, old man once said, "Doing what's right may not be easy, but in the long run, it really is."
Most children are not stupid. Not by a long shot. After a few instances when their parents have consistently refused to give into their demanding ways, they quickly surmise that approach is no longer effective, and soon learn their existence will be enhanced by doing the right thing -- not just what they want to do.
The result of such guidance is a child who respects the rights of others and understands that life is an exercise in compromise - giving as well as taking. In turn, they learn to respect themselves and feel good about doing what's right. As they grow older, they ultimately realize the long-term effects of proper parenting are so much more beneficial than getting a cookie every time they whine.
I remember back in the 1970s when the Hippie generation - and I was more a part of it than not - came up with the brilliant idea that a child should never, ever hear the term "no." What a huge mistake that was.
Life is all about accepting what you can't or shouldn't have and being told "no" is a huge part of that. It keeps us humble. It keeps us in-line. It guides us in the proper direction. It helps us make correct choices instead of walking into a grade school with a semi-automatic weapon and killing anyone who makes the mistake of crossing our path.
My little Greek mother, who remains as feisty as ever at the age of 89, didn't even have to say "no" to my two sisters and me. Instead, she had the unique ability to just give us a certain "look." When that look arrived, we all knew it was time to quit doing what we were doing ... immediately. It wasn't exactly what you'd describe as a look of love, but then again, in retrospect, it really was. So thanks, Mom.
I don't know if mass murders for no apparent reason will ever cease in this world -- and especially America -- but I do know that teaching our young people to respect others (including their parents) and, with it, the sanctity of life, can't hurt. Not one bit.