I was talking with a wise religious leader once when I used that worn out cliché, talking about someone who refused to conform. “No,” he admitted, “you can’t make him drink.” Then he smiled mischievously. “But you can put salt in his hay.”
I think many of us have become confused about rights; our rights, their rights, our children’s rights… I’m just waiting for someone to start fighting for the rights of plants, so I can sign up as a volunteer. Don’t get me wrong. I know that civilized society is based on the rights that are afforded to all. Still, rights do not come at face value. I can decide to be a deadbeat parent. My neighbor has the right to judge me for that and to submit his opinion to the neighborhood; whether I like it or not. I have the right to smoke, though I don’t get to choose my consequences. That is a very important life-lesson. I do get to choose my actions. I do not get to choose the results of those actions. And far too many teens and adolescents are never taught that fact until the consequences are simply too big for parents to divert. At that point, the lesson is often left for nature to teach, and nature is brutal when it comes do handing out reactions to actions. Wheel chairs and breathing machines are in her arsenal and she isn’t a bit inhibited to use them when it comes to teaching human beings.
Just like the proverbial horse, my children won’t be
forced to drink. But I love putting salt in their hay.
My wife and I have rights to establish rules in our home. Our children have the right to disobey them. We have the right to punish them for disobedience. They have the right to be angry about the punishment. Nowhere have I violated my children’s rights by insisting that they follow the rules of the house. I always raise an eyebrow when parents claim that they can’t stop a child from buying what they want (short of breaking laws) with their own money; money that the parent gives to the child for an “allowance.” I’m always a little bit confused if a parent doesn’t realize their own right to withhold spending money.
Just like the proverbial horse, my children won’t be forced to drink. But I love putting salt in their hay. At our house attendance at extracurricular activities is conditional on obeying the rules of the house. And no; the rules of our house are not voted on all by all members of the family regardless of age and experience (more importantly the lack thereof). Rides to places our children would like to go are also conditional. So is time on the phone, T.V. time, gaming time, play-dates, I could go on and on. Call me mean. Call me a tyrant. Call me Henry the Eighth, for all I care (it’s your right!). I love to see my children cringe when they taste the salt in a big bite of hay. I even take pleasure in seeing them rush to the water that they thought they didn’t want. That may seem a little bit sadistic. Still, I hope that my children learn cause and effect, before nature shows up with a casket.