Sometimes parents need to be ‘bad guys’

STILLWATER, Okla., (U-Wire) — Don’t think I haven’t noticed the popular new trend in film these days, which is to make movies without good guys or bad guys. And when there are good guys and bad guys, they’re bad good guys and good bad guys, forever dashing the hopes we’ve held of keeping the next generation of kidlets from being warped mentally.
Some say there aren’t any purely good or evil characters anymore because there aren’t any purely good or evil people in the real world, and films are supposed to be about real people and real situations.
Personally, I miss the old school bad guys — the ones who tied girls to train tracks and told the hero their plans before plunging him into an impossible deathtrap.
But the bad guys I miss the most aren’t in the movies. I miss the bad guys who tell children not to touch the glass or play ball in the house. I miss the villains who tell their children to sit down in church and eat those vegetables — the ones who aren’t afraid to apply a little street justice.
Some of you might be thinking, “Where can I find pantyhose on sale?” That, I don’t know. Hopefully, the rest of you non-sickos are wondering why the bad guys I describe sound like your parents. Good job. It makes my job much easier when you follow this train of thought.
Growing up, I loved my parents. (Don’t worry Mom, I still do.) They were nice to me and treated me with the respect generally given to a literate biped. This doesn’t mean they weren’t the bad guys. Mom and Dad would spank me if I acted up, ground me if I broke the rules and make me cry when I had lied to them. That’s evil, isn’t it? Or maybe that’s just good parenting.
So why, you might ask in a huff, are they “the bad guys” if they’re just being good parents? Ask around, because it seems that all the basic parenting skills of my youth are now considered “child abuse” and bad for self-esteem. Methinks we’ve got too many wusses-in-training.
Hold onto your shorts, DHS-ophiles — spanking isn’t child abuse. It’s called negative reinforcement. And yes, it does have the word “negative” in it, and no, that’s not a bad thing. If we teach children early on that disobeying orders will result in a momentary burst of pain, they will shy away from disobeying orders. No means no or you get your behind swatted.
That’s cruel, right? I don’t know. Is it worse to let a child go without punishment as a youth and then let him rot in a prison cell because he never learned the difference between right and wrong early on? If anything, I say that brief, controlled physical punishment teaches a child a few things. 1. Don’t do that. 2. I mean it. 3. I’m the boss.
And no, that’s not stifling a child’s freedom, it’s the truth. Children aren’t meant to be their own bosses. They need adults to navigate them through the river of perils that awaits us all.
The real problem is, nobody wants to be the bad guy. Parents are afraid their kids are going to grow up resentful and angry, conveniently “forgetting” them on gift-giving holidays and signing them away to “Jake and Euda’s Discount Senior Center and Laundromat.”
We all remember being mad at our parents and saying, “When I have kids, I’ll never do this to them!” Most of us have grown up to realize that our parents weren’t so bad and that we would, in fact, do all the things we swore we’d never do to our kids. But there are some parents out there right now that are so afraid of offending their kids that they won’t discipline them. “But I love my child,” you say, as if anyone would let you touch them in the dark.
If you really love a child, take the time to teach him what’s right and wrong and why he shouldn’t do it. That’s the problem. We forget about the “whys.” Kids can reason and they need reasons not to do things.
After a while, they’re going to understand that some things are intrinsically right and wrong, but for a while, they need a reason not to do things. Sometimes, kids need a spanking as a reason. If it’s done right and with full knowledge of how much pressure is actually being applied, it can be effective and it will be appreciated someday.
All the parents want to be loved without being “the bad guy,” and why not? They’re the only ones that have to be the bad guys. All the grandparents are tired of being the bad guys, since they were the bad guys when their kids were young. They’ve earned the right to stop being disciplinarians.
“Oh, he’s so cute.” Forget that steaming pile. Even if your kids are cute, which I doubt, they won’t stay that way forever so you might take the time and teach them manners and morals while you have their undivided attention.
Everybody thinks the kids are cute, but no one wants to be the one to tell a child or his parents that his screaming is interrupting what could be a very nice day at the DMV. And if you’re thinking, “there’s no such thing as a nice day at the DMV,” then I suggest you go to the DMV with a screaming child whose parents won’t shut him up. Any day at the DMV is a nice day when there aren’t screaming children.
Put on a black hat, walk into the saloon and tell your kids that you’re the boss and if they don’t want to eat what you’ve got then they can wait for breakfast and don’t go back on it. If you don’t want them listening to rap or watching R-rated movies, you have the right to stop them. But if you think that the reason those kids in Colorado lived la vida loca all over their school was because they played “Mortal Kombat” and not because they didn’t have a stern parent who set boundaries for them then you’re wrong.
Be the bad guy and save the rest of us the uncomfortable task of smacking your kids for you.
Gregory M. Elwell’s column originally appeared in Wednesday’s Oklahoma State University paper, the Daily O’Collegian.