Monday, July 18, 2011

More From The "What Have We Done?" Files

It's happened again.  Our inability to discipline our children has reared its ugly head again and we've got more blood on our collective hands.  This time the headline is from Port St Lucie, FL and talks of the 17-year old that killed his parents with a hammer then held a party at their home.  Tyler Hadley is being charged with two counts of first-degree murder.  It seems that at 1:30 Saturday afternoon, he posted an invitation to a party on Facebook.  A little while later, he took a 22" framing hammer and bludgeoned his parents about the head and torso.  He then pulled their lifeless bodies into their master bedroom where he used books, towels, files - anything he could find - to cover their bodies.  Then, a little after 9:00 p.m., about 40-60 people showed up to party at Tyler's house.  Apparently, there were rumors (both during and after the party) that Tyler might have killed his parents.  The police, acting on an anonymous tip, conducted a 'welfare check' at about 4:20 a.m. Sunday.  The teen first tried to tell the officers his parents were out of town, though they later found them with the murder weapon lying between them.  As anyone can imagine, the police described it as a "senseless, brutal killing."

I harp on this topic constantly and have spoken to a few more friends recently about the topic of disciplining children.  Personally, I have had the same issues as the belief seems to be that any typical, 'expected' actions of a teenager deem it acceptable.  If a teenager wants to talk back, many believe it is okay as they are "just being teenagers".  As long as we continue to view it that way, we will never be able to rectify the problem....and it IS a problem.  As a matter of fact, in my personal 'research', I have spoken to parents of teens that have, and are, raised them.  We speak of the problems they've seen and the issues they've faced because we, as parents, are no longer allowed to physically punish our children.  I have to admit, it would be a rude awakening for many of today's youth if we WERE allowed to discipline them as our parents did.  Today, though, we are given excuses and told why we cannot do anything to make sure our kids show respect.  We are told, especially when the parents are divorced, what we can and cannot do because, "Mom bought that for me so you can't take it away," or, "Dad gave me this and you cannot do anything about it."  Sadly, if we continue to allow behaviors that need to be corrected, we might end up the way the parents of young Hadley did.

What can possess a child to kill his parents in cold blood then, as their bodies lie in the upstairs bedroom, hold a party for 40-60 people?  I know many of you are sitting there reading this thinking, "Must be an isolated, sad incident and thank goodness my kids aren't that way."  I want to point out to you that, with all the influences on kids' lives today, this could happen anywhere.  There need not be any extenuating circumstances.  All there needs to be is a situation where a kid thinks they should be able to do something and the parent says, "No," for this type thing to take place.  Many of you still don't believe me, yet have not had the fun experience of having a kid talk back to you.  I applaud you for that.  Seriously.  Many of you are not divorced (at least half, so the statistics say!) and do not have to co-parent with someone who may or may not have the child's best interests at heart.  They may, as I have seen with some couples, continue to harbor ill will toward the former spouse and use the child to manipulate and hurt the other spouse.  It's a game and, as we've seen here, a potentially deadly one.  We're supposed to be able to teach our kids right from wrong, yet we have to do so with our hands tied.  I'm supposed to abide by the same rules (or lack thereof) as everyone else, however those same rules may need to be modified for each situation and child.  I wrote, just the other evening, about giving trophies to every child for merely participating rather than them having earned it through achievement.  Here we are, years later, realizing that it was a bad, bad idea for the children overall.  We reacted emotionally rather than logically.  We reacted to the moment rather than long-term.  I am telling you now, we reacted emotionally, too, when we decided it was wrong to use corporal punishment to discipline our children.  PLEASE KNOW THIS - I am NOT advocating abuse or hitting your child for everything.  I am saying that, at times, something stronger than a raised voice or time-out, is necessary.  When all you have is the ability to raise your voice, all they do is stop listening.  They also talk back.  They don't react well at all.  They do, however, pay attention when there is even the implication that there might be a stinging sensation on their buttocks.  Anyone remember going out to get their own switch or the sound of a belt clearing all the loops in one pull?  Me, too...and I think I am a better person, with more respect for authority, than many of the youth of today.

Until next time.......

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