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My OB/Gyn was once a Marine.  Or is a Marine.  Once a Marine, always a Marine?  Either way….

When I was pregnant with either #2 or #3 we were discussing parenting strategies.  He has teenage daughters.  Typical teenage daughters.  I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.  

One of his daughter’s was having a hard time following the expected behaviors of their house.  Seems she was rebelling against anything and everything he and his wife were doing.  When this happens, he goes into Marine Corp mode  He goes through the motions without even knowing it.  At this point he said something to her that has stayed with me to this day.  “There is a fine line between fear and respect.  I don’t care what side you are on as long as you are walking on it.”  

A friend of mine is having issues with her son at school.  He’s in the 5th grade.  He’s a straight A student.  He’s involved in anything and everything.  He is a very nice kid.  He knows respect.  He knows fear.  In the past two months he’s been punched in the face, by a girl, for no reason.  Or at least one he isn’t aware of.  Neither is anyone else.  This girl, who has a history of doing this, bopped him in the face and gave him a bloody nose.  Also, while he was talking to another kid at the lunch table, another kid came and gave him the people’s elbow on the top of his hand while it laid flat on the table, fracturing a bone.  No reason.  No confrontation.  So, her son is being bullied but by different people at random times.  Apparently.  She went to visit the principle  and was shocked to find out he wasn’t planning on doing much.  See… the 5th grade is the last grade at this school and then they move to middle school.  If he can wait this out just a few more months the problem will no longer be his.  Meanwhile we have two kids who are able to do whatever they please.  

Kids need to be taught respect.  Every kid responds differently.  Some kids do well with time-outs.  They are put away from everyone else after doing something wrong, feel remorse and do not repeat the unwanted behavior.  Some kids do well with natural consequences.  They figure out bad things happen when they do bad things.  Some kids do well with getting a whack across the ass.  Pain makes them not want to repeat the bad things.  It’s up to you, as a parent, to figure out what works for your child and go with it.  

I’m all for being my child’s best friend.  But to do that I have to show them discipline.  I love them too much to allow them to be OK with their bad decisions.  I love them too much to allow them to go through life thinking they are perfect and without flaws.  I love them too much to allow them to think they aren’t capable of making mistakes.  I want them to be terrified of failure.  Without fear of failure, you have no will get off the bottom.  If my child were to go up to someone and punch them in the face, you can bet they will be punished.  If this were to happen at school, I would fully expect the school to punish my child.  I would expect the principle would be the first one to show his authority and show my child the proper consequences of punching another child.

If you can’t show a child, who isn’t afraid to punch another kid in the face for no reason, that you can enforce rules and consequences you are enabling them to do it again.  They know, under your watch, you have no balls.  And then….  they’ll do it again but go a bit further.  And further again the time after that. This is because kids want to know where they stand.  They want to know boundaries.  Maybe they don’t have any at home.  Maybe they don’t have parents that love them so much to let them know their limits.  But if you are the principle in this school is it not a choice you can make.  You have got to grow a set and show these kids their limits.  You need to make the boundaries bright colored in flashing lights.  You need to show them the consequences of their actions.  You need to instill some fear in them.  They need to fear failing you.  They need to respect you enough to not to want to make those bad decisions.

“There is a fine line between fear and respect.  I don’t care what side you are on as long as you are walking on it.”