Thursday, November 17, 2005

Some days this show just isn’t long enough to get in all the important stories that should be discussed. While we are all about the business of the day, we’re also all about the business of life, and life has its turns and twists that make you stand back now and then and say, “ahh...!”

In Oklahoma City, a mother got fed up with her 14-year old daughter’s poor grades, chronic tardiness to class, and sass-talking to teachers…so she made the little brat stand at in intersection last weekend with a cardboard sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."
I think it’s brilliant.
I think it’s bold.
I think it’s made a difference, because the mother has already seen a change for the better in the behavior of the teenager in the past few days.

It’s also opened a real can of worms…as reactions range from "Hoo-aah's" to condemnation for the public humiliation of the daughter by the mother.

Public, yes.
Humiliation, perhaps.

How about a life-lesson teaching the cause and effect of a lack of education.
How much less embarrassing is it to be 44 instead of 14, and stand on the side of the road holding a sign that says “will work for food.”

Did you ever ask yourself who are the parents of that bum?
Why is it necessary to now beg for work—or food?
Where was the mistake made?

Is this an instance of "killing a kid psychologically," as alleged by a writer to The Daily Oklahoman op-ed page, or a great example of a parent taking extraordinary measures to keep her teenaged daughter from making a colossal mess of her life with poor decision-making skills?

Is it psychological abuse to point out the shortcomings of a kid in the formative years?

When my son was very young—just a few months old—our pediatrician diagnosed a condition in which his legs and feet were turned inward, and he prescribed casting his legs with the feet turned outward over several months to correct the defect. So we had his legs cast in plaster at the age of 6-months…and for weeks, carried around this blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy with a smile for everyone…and ten pounds of plaster encasing his legs.

Was it cruel to add the extra torque and extra weight to our infant’s legs?
Was it psychologically damaging to correct a problem early in his life so that he would be able to function like “normal” people later in life?
Was he emotionally scarred because we took steps to fix something that was headed in the wrong direction?
You oughtta see him play basketball now.

We as parents need to do the hard things that result in the right outcome for our kids. So we put their legs in casts…we put braces on their teeth so they won’t look like Mister Ed…and sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to expose them to the realities of life affected by poor choices.

It’s interesting to see the outcome of this “extreme attitude make-over:” The student was getting C’s and D’s in school…now, attendance has been perfect and her behavior has done a one-eighty. Humiliating? Perhaps, at 14, the lesson plan was a little embarrassing…but how humiliating is it to be holding signs, begging on the street corner at 44?

The academic experts are also weighing-in…Donald Wertlieb, a professor of child development at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, says, "such punishment could do extreme emotional damage."
He thinks "rewarding positive behavior is more effective."

"The trick is to catch them being good," saith the Professor, who theorizes the mother "has not had a chance to catch her child being good, or is so upset over seeing her be bad, that's where the focus is."

No, professor, the trick is not to “catch them being good.”
The object is to turn mis-behavior into opportunity for correction.
If you don’t provide positive guidance, how will a kid know the difference between right and wrong behavior? For that matter, without a standard against which to compare behavior and provide correction, how will a kid know the difference between right and wrong?

Maybe if more parents took the initiative in correcting their children—instead of relying on daycare or public schools to apply a politically-correct, sterile standard of performance of behavior—we’d have fewer 44-year old failures.

Like casting twisted feet in plaster to re-direct their correct growth, sometimes a weekend of humiliation can provide the proper guidance to straighten out developing young minds.

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