Discipline — With Teeth.

They're so good... when they're sleeping.
They’re so good… when they’re sleeping.

Are you friends with your child? Do you consider yourself “cool” and “hip” and “one of the kids?” Do you engage in conversations on their level, and keep up with the latest trends in celebrities, music and fashion?

Then you’re a damned fool and a complete failure as a parent. Put your kids up for adoption immediately before you cause any further damage.

One not too bright mother made all the rookie mistakes. Beverly allowed her daughter to begin dating unsupervised at 14. She gave her a brand new car at age 16. Beverly considered herself a “cool” mom, so she decided against issuing a curfew. Beverly allowed her daughter to stay in a house that she rented for her at the Jersey Shore for two weeks each summer, completely UNSUPERVISED. What the hell was this woman thinking? Maybe she had a little too much antidepressant in her morning coffee. Any teen would think this was fabulous! But poor Beverly is now the talk of all her former friends as the mom who unwittingly created a substance-abusing irresponsible unemployable bitch who ultimately ruined her ex-husband and her daughter’s life too.

Never forget that until your child is a legal emancipated adult living away from your home, you are the boss. You NEED to be the boss. Your child subconsciously WANTS you to be the boss. Although it’s easier and may seem “cooler” to be your child’s friend, this is the single biggest mistake any parent can make. When they’re grown and have families of their own, then you can be friends. But for now, your child really wants and needs you to be in charge. Although they’ll never understand or admit it, most children feel more secure when you position yourself as a figure of authority. Authority teaches them to be more responsible. This will help them become better adults and hopefully responsible parents.

There is a trick. You can’t hold the reins so tightly it causes a rebellion. It’s a very delicate balance. I believe in a progression of freedom. You demonstrate to me that you can handle certain gradually more complex situations and responsibilities, and I will allow you graduated incremental freedoms. If you can’t get good grades, keep your room clean, and do the dishes properly and without me nagging you, why in hell would you think I’m going to allow and pay for you party with your friends until 1 AM? You need to communicate this method with your child, and make sure he or she understands exactly what is expected from them. Pay very close attention, and punish or reward accordingly.

You will run into significant resistance. Many of your child’s peer’s parents will not enforce any rules, and your child may think that normal. Naturally, they’ll become jealous. I blatantly tell my kids the truth — the other parents don’t care about their kids. I ask them, “Wouldn’t you rather have parents who care about you?” They think about this for a while, and usually agree. If they disagree, I’ve learned to slap their silly misdirected ambitions down anyway.

Unfortunately, in America, we can no longer whack kids with a belt when they’re out of line. We can’t even threaten to whack kids with a belt when they’re misbehaving. And thanks to several misguided liberal judges and their now silly precedents, we can’t even say words that might even elude to the usage of a belt or any other device, because that might technically be construed as “assault” with the threat of using an instrument of cruel and unusual punishment. As a matter of fact, if a child even feels slightly threatened, no matter what kind of havoc that child has directly caused, they’ve been conditioned to call the police on their parents to report domestic violence. And many do. You need to be aware of this. Just make sure that your children are well aware that if they call the police and you’re arrested, your kids will be immediately removed from their comfortable and familiar environment, lose all their toys and privileges you’ve been paying for, and they’ll be placed in a potentially shitty foster care situation. That should make them think twice about calling 911 the next time you punish them for forgetting to do a chore.

Heck, if your kids really suck and are too far gone to recover, maybe you should call 911 on yourself, tell the police you’re about to beat the living shit out of your belligerent 17 year-old drug addict child, and have yourself arrested. I am aware of a situation where this actually happened, and with a few other strange twists, actually worked out for the mom and her husband. The kid’s out of the house, not breaking down any more doors, and the parents are finally rested and seem very happy. Punkin’ is now in rehab. Perhaps that infant circumcision is payment in advance for all the grief some sons will inevitably cause their parents.

When you see parents ask their kids to do or not to do something and the child looks back and sneers, it’s because our society has removed the teeth of discipline. We are now faced with a few generations of people with no fear of civil or religious retribution. Wonder why our prisons are so crowded? Our bastardized Constitution has unintentionally produced a culture of citizens who are ill-suited for society.

Be that as it may, you should not make the same mistakes. Know that even though your disciplinarian hands are tied, there are still quite a few very effective tools in your arsenal.

Always try reasoning first. Tell them why you don’t want them to do what they think they should be doing. Project the long-term effects of a potentially bad decision.

For example, your 16 year-old daughter wants to go to a nighttime beach party or bonfire with a bunch of classmates. You ask who’s organizing the party, and you find that it may be a student, and not a parent. But she quickly corrects herself, and says a parent. You ask for the parent’s phone number to verify, but she doesn’t have it, and thinks it would be weird if you called. You decline permission on the grounds that it is technically illegal to have a party on the beach without a permit. Further, it’s a bad idea to be in the dark with a bunch of strangers, and chances are some idiot will bring alcoholic beverages, which could lead to fights, stupidity, physical harm, and a potential arrest.

She still can’t comprehend the problem, because nothing bad ever happens on the Disney Channel during beach parties.

You delve further into the possibilities. Dark areas could be an invitation for rape – a beach is a public place, and people other than your classmates may be there. Inadvertent physical harm from being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a fight, such as a thrown broken beer bottle, could lead to permanent disfiguration of her face or body, and who wants that? And an arrest on her record could hurt her job opportunities or her chances to get into the college of her choice.

Teenage brains are not wired to consider all these real-world circumstances, so it’s your job to do the thinking for her.

Listen carefully to their response, if they’re offering one. They may have the maturity to make the right decisions, apply the right care and reasoning, and ultimately offset your concerns. Or their argument might not be valid, but offer your counter reasoning as a discussion. Remember, it is your job to teach them from your experience so they won’t make potentially silly or damaging mistakes. Remind them of this fact. You might not have enough information to make an informed decision, but you do have the prerogative to decline permission based on that fact, and leave the burden of proof to your child. The delay in permission may give you enough time to avoid the potentially adverse situation.

If reasoning fails, you have the option to offer a substitute, such as a distraction. Play a game. Go to the movies. Have your own supervised (lame) beach party. Be a parent. Most likely, she’ll be mad as hell and storm up to her bedroom to fiercely defend her social status on the social network of the month. She’ll get over it. Bring her some ice cream a bit later, and at least attempt to talk with her. Remind her it’s for her own good, and that you love her with all your heart.

In the event that he or she has already done something stupid or disrespectful, you must show some authority immediately, or they’ll run all over you from this point forward. Yelling and showing your displeasure is typical and can be moderately effective, but it’s not enough. You need to invoke immediate consequences. Depending on the severity of the infraction, you should have a predetermined and reasonable punishment ready to deploy.

You have the power and authority to take away the things they love. You legally cannot and should never deprive them from basic needs like safety, food, shelter, and clothing — but you sure as hell can make that supply of basic needs seem miserable. It’s your hard-earned money and you’re the boss. These are just a few proven punishments that have enough teeth to show you mean business:

  • Ground them from all outside activities except school.
  • Increase chores.
  • Cancel the cable TV.
  • Cancel the data plan on their smart phone.
  • If they need a phone, replace the smartphone with a prepaid flip phone.
  • Change the password to the wireless internet.
  • Physically remove the cable modem.
  • Sell the video game system.
  • Hide the car keys.
  • Remove the car battery.
  • Sell the car.
  • Disallow permission to go to the prom.
  • Don’t pay for any fringe activities.
  • Cancel vacation.
  • Drop them off at your parents before you go on vacation.
  • Sell the dog.
  • Remove their trendy clothes and shoes from their room and replace them with clean and conservative thrift store clothes.

Punishments, although they should clearly suck, should not be unreasonable in severity or duration. Grounding a child for missing curfew should only be a week for a first offense, but let them know the next time may be longer.

Punishments you shouldn’t dole out include:

  • Shooting their laptop on YouTube.
  • Forcing them to stand on a street corner with a sandwich sign.
  • Anything having anything to do with duct tape.

Discipline is a love-hate thing. Children must be taught there are consequences for not doing the right thing. In the real world, you’ve got to compete against everyone else. You don’t yet realize that fact in the comfort of your childhood home.

If they go to work and decide not to do their job, someone else will, and the slacker will be fired. If you get fired, you won’t get paid, and no one will hire you because you’ll have a bad reference. If you don’t have a job, it’ll be difficult to pay rent, eat, buy beer, and make car payments. You’ll lose your cell phone, your internet, and you won’t be able to party with your employed friends.

Welfare averages about $300 a month for a single person. To put that in perspective, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $550 a month. You’re already $250 in the hole, and you haven’t eaten or bought toilet paper yet. Never mind your car, insurance, gas, the internet, or your cell phone. They’ll all be gone – you can no longer afford those luxuries.

You want to move back home if things don’t work out? I don’t think so! Make that option as remotely desirable as possible. We’ve already moved and downsized. Or we converted your room into an office. Maybe you could sleep on a couch for a few nights. But we’ll need to charge you rent. And you’ll need to do an inordinate amount of chores to pay for your meals.

Teeth. Feel them bitches.

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