Subtitle: “How My Mama’s Old School Lessons Taught Me to Check Myself before I Wrecked Myself.”
Ylonda Gault Caviness’ new book hit the stands just in time for a comparative debate about parenting—a la the Baltimore mom’s smack “up side the head” of her teen age son. The debate still rages on over whether the Baltimore mom did psychological harm to her son by “putting him in check” when she suspected his participation in ransacking and looting stores in Baltimore.
“…kids today harbor the illusion that they are our equal.” They fancy themselves smarter, shorter adults—less keys and credit cards” says Ms. Caviness. But she seems out of touch because today’s kids also have keys and credit cards. She also says this: “Back in the day, mothers didn’t suffer the mess we put up with now. Of course, the culture as a whole was far more stringent.” In other words, parents today are too lax in their child rearing. And according to Ms. Caviness, they are too indulging of their kids, trying to make them perfect.
Watch a few episodes of Dr. Phil and you will see parents at the point of desperation over the “little angels” they have raised. Parents sit on Dr. Phil’s stage literally afraid of their own children—afraid of pre-teen sons who are threatening to kill them; afraid of teenage daughters who are having more sex than their parents and daring their parents to impose any rules. Some of these parents say, to the amazement of Dr. Phil, “We don’t know what happened.” Well, what happened is that too many parents raise children as if they are young adults capable of making adult choices. I know parents who literally ask for their children’s permission to buy cereal—as in “I hope little Johnny likes this brand.” Child please. When I was growing up no one ever wondered if I liked anything put on a plate—and you better eat it—with a straight face.
“Child Please” is Ms. Caviness’ attempt to bring some “old school” common sense and sanity back to modern day child rearing. When she talks about “the look” that she got from her mom, meaning “child go somewhere and sit down,” it registers with some of us. Not only do I remember “the look” but I also remember the words, “keep on.” And “keep on” meant just the opposite—it meant one more time and “I’m going to knock fire from you.” But the debate today is about whether any child should be whupped. Corporal punishment, as in spanking a child, is seen as encouraging problem solving through violence. Some people say that the epidemic of domestic violence we see today is a direct product of adults being hit as children as a way to address any type of defiance. And so when boys who were hit grow up and become husbands and fathers, they too turn to hitting as a way of correcting household members. And by that same reasoning, I suppose young girls who were whipped grow up to be abusive moms who smack their children or otherwise talk to them using foul-mouth and abusive language. Maybe—maybe not. But these same abusive parents are not abusive in their work places. They can “check” themselves at the company door before they walk inside and “go off” on a boss. So explain how violence that begets violence can be so selectively used?
“Child Please” has some interesting titles among it 300 pages and 21 chapters, including the last chapter, “Sho, You Right.” When a lot of us “old schoolers” look back at how we were raised, we know that a lot of old school parenting was “right on target.” When I look at teen and pre-teen boys walking the streets, and store aisles with their nasty draws showing, somebody, somewhere didn’t do some serious Chapter 18, “Act Like You Got Some Sense” parenting. Some of these young kids today are walking time bombs headed for a wreck because no one is daring to put them in check. What I saw in Baltimore with a bunch of “kids” ransacking stores was “unchecked” kids with no “Chapter 13, “Did I Stutter?” parenting. And so these “unchecked” kids destroyed 200 small businesses, many minority businesses without insurance, and now those small businesses have shut their doors closing off employment or career opportunities for the very kids that did the damage. And the attitude that “these are just children” was a bunch of crock. Child Please!
Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.