Friday, April 16, 2010

Will paddling in Texas solve behavior problems?

An article in the Washington Post covers the school district of Temple, TX decision to allow the arcane practice of paddling their students. The people of that city seem to think that the threat of paddling will go a long way in changing their misbehaved students to obedient, malleable citizens. Clicking in to the 'User Poll' button on the article (I'll let you guess what I voted for) I was shocked to see the results. 72 % of 690 users (by the time I clicked on it at 2:42 PM CMT) voted YES! Yegaaads! The overwhelming amount of readers actually think that paddling is an effective incentive to coax students into good behavior.

There have been many studies done that clearly show that physical violence towards our children will not result in better human beings. I trust that if you read this post and article that you are indeed quite capable of doing the research yourself.

My post here isn't to reiterate the negative results of spanking but rather my thoughts on the holes in the thought processes of Temple, TX's residents. They mistakenly think that it is the schools responsibility to teach these young students a lesson via threatened and actual violence. They actually believe that these young people need to get their lessons in good behavior and citizenship from the schools. Yes, children spend an average 7-8 hours of their day at school but by the time schools get the kids along with their bad behavior (endorsed by their parents and caregivers) its already too late!!!. Good behavior and moral code are supposed to be imparted by the parents or caregivers. Parents are too busy to really interact with their kids, they don't even teach them basic manners. I get absolutely irritated when my kids' friends call me by my first name. I gently reinforce - 'that would be Mrs. B' dearie. My kids would never dream of calling an adult anything other than Mr & Mrs or Ms. Why? Because I felt that they should learn formal manners towards adults. They can call their peers by their given names. There is a reason why my kids are welcome everywhere and people can't stop praising them. And I didn't expect their schools to teach them those manners. It was and is my job. My kids wouldn't dream of wearing inappropriate clothes.... because I WON'T BUY THEM. Missy and BearBear behave well not out of fear but because they can't imagine behaving any other way. Now, if there were any people reading this post some would likely have this comment 'I won't raise my kids to be automatons'. And you are right. You shouldn't! How about raising well behaved, thoughtful, kind, and polite people with a mind of their own and the intelligence to bring it to life in a productive and constructive way. It irks me (to put it mildly) that this generation of parents feels that it is the teachers and schools who should bear the burden of what is really our own responsibility.. the raising of our children. Put the paddle away and work with the parents. You can beat the crud out of the kids but if they never had the initial guidance from their parents you are wasting wood. That's where raising young people should start with the parents. And there is no reason at all why it shouldn't start from day one... at home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

'Return to sender' or 'I'm done playing with the Russian boy, you can have him back...'

Unless you've been living under a rock these past days I am sure you heard about the 7 year old Russian lad who was shipped back to Russia when his adoptive mother decided he wasn't her particular flavor of coffee. Outrage is the most commonly heard sentiment as one listens to people talk about this and I think they are right.
Shortly after marrying my husband I adopted a large lab/great dane (18 months old) mix from the local pound. He was a darling dog. Huge and loveable. But no matter how hard I worked with him I couldn't stop him from destroying everything. And Cesar Milan wasn't around back then. He wasn't my first dog (nor my last) and I consider myself a good dog parent. My dogs poop and pee on command for goodness sake... LOL. However, it got to the point where my darling hubby of all of a few months said: 'Honey, me or the dog.' I chose my husband. I personally took the dog back to the pound (no-kill shelter) and explained the circumstances. They agreed that he was better suited to a farm than a suburban home. They did say that they would find him a farm although that wasn't something they normally did. To this day I feel bad about this. But this is the scoop. I chose my human long term husband (married 16 years now) over the pet. But the story we are all talking about deals with a very real little boy. Not a dog.

  That being said someone should have told the lady before took those actions:  

  • "This isn't a dog, honey, this is a little boy called Artem who has problems. "
  • "You legally adopted this child and he is yours. Warts and all. Deal with it. "
  • "There is help. Artem needs counseling and evidently so do you. Get yourselves the help you both need."
  • "Think about this...had this child been born to you and had behavioral problems, what would you have done???"
  • "Stop watching stupid horror movies. "
  • "When you signed the papers this boy became legally yours. What you did is abandonment and apart from illegal is also amoral. " 
There are days when I threaten my kids too. My personal favorites are 'Some animals eat their young and I know why.' Or 'I will have your drawn, quartered, tarred, and feathered so help me......' I understand getting frustrated, but abandoning a child is reprehensible. I understand she wasn’t able to ‘bond’ with Artem but that takes time. What did she expect? Didn’t she research? Kids from Russia and other ‘East Block’ countries often have psychological issues. Did she think she was going to bring a kid to another country, culture and life and all of a sudden it’s all peace, happiness and kumbaya? What kind of guidance did she receive through the adoption process?

There was help available to the lady if she had just made an effort to look for it. I would imagine that what the spokespeople for Torry Hansen said is true. That the adoption agency may have kept some behavioural issues from coming to light. But let us remember the real looser here. Artem. His problems are not his fault. And as someone who has changed continents twice (once as a teenager and later as an adult) let me tell you this... it's hard!!!! One should hardly be surprised that 7 year old Artem acted out. The kid needed a therapist NOT A PLANE TICKET!!!

If I could say something to the little boy it would be this. "Honey, I suspect in your seven years on this planet you've seen some serious pain. And all a child your age should receive from his caregiers is love and caring . I know you are hurting and I sincerely hope that someone will give you not only the love you deserve but also the help and guidance you desperately need. Not all people are like the woman who abandoned you. In fact, most aren't. I understand that it will take you a long time to trust someone again, but do give it a try. "

And to the Russian authorities now eyeballing other American future adoptive parents with distrust... we are not all like this woman. Please, please, please do not judge all of the hopeful loving future adoptive parents under the shadow of this one incident.