Growing up, in terms of staying out of trouble, I would say that Allison, my sister, and I were pretty good kids. We were rarely spanked or given a serious talk for offenses where our parents needed to correct our wrongful ways. However, on occasion, we were reprimanded with lessons to be learned and explained why we were in trouble.
In one specific instance, Allison drew all over the walls in the entryway of our house with colored markers. She blamed me, her brother, who at the time could barely speak complete sentences for her crimes. Therefore, my parents spanked me as the declared culprit only for Allison to later confess her wrongdoing in tears of mischief. She did not receive any type of discipline for her con artist graffiti behaviors.
These were the most feared words my mother could speak – “Wait until your father comes home!” I would beg Mom to keep temporary problematic actions just between us. Sometimes she would practice mercy and keep small infractions a secret; other times, I would sit alone in my room, waiting for my father to come home, which often resulted in a spanking. Those few times were the longest waiting periods of my life!
One day, I imagine that the same warning declarations will be spoken to my two children, Annabelle and Jace. The fear of Daddy coming home….I still experience chills with these frightening thoughts as I remember my childhood.
As I grow older, I now understand that respect for my father triggered these disappointing thoughts, yearning for his approval. In other words, I knew I was in trouble, that I did wrong, and most importantly, that I could be better than my troublesome behaviors suggested. Naturally, I wanted my parents to be proud of me, rather than cause problems from misconduct.
After a spanking or a serious grounding, my father would ask me, “Why do you think I reacted in this way to your actions?” I would usually think of some smart-aleck response, angry in my own way for my father’s discipline. My Dad’s explanation usually carried the same themes about an honorable upbringing and affirming that he loved me. I would think, “Yeah right! How does loving someone lead to or relate to disciplining them?”
Then, as I have raised Annabelle, I understood that love from a parent often serves to protect and teach a child, sometimes even safeguarding the child from themselves. For example, Annabelle often needs to stay out of the kitchen when the oven gets hot and grease boils to cook food. For another instance, Annabelle likes to stand up while taking a bath. In order to keep Annabelle from falling and potentially causing serious harm in the bathtub, I tell her to “sit down!” Even though she does not yet understand these incidental reasonings, I caution and speak sternly so that Annabelle listens and obeys the correction rendered. Then inevitably, serious accidents are avoided.
I do these things because I love my daughter. I desire to protect her. I wish to keep her from physical harm. At two years of age, she does not comprehend the warning messages that my wife, Lisa, and I speak to her, although one day she probably will. Like myself, she will appreciate and even be grateful that her parents cared for her in the way my parents have cared for me. It builds a foundation to understand right from wrong.
In modern-day U. S. culture, it is rare to have two caring parents in a stable home environment with sound ethics being taught. I remain blessed to have two parents who are both still very much involved in my life, and I will carry on the traditions they taught me through discipline, correction, and respect for others.
Hopefully, Annabelle will understand that my love for her is strong and secure for as long as I live.
In the pictures below, Annabelle socialized and even entertained her Great Grandfather, Jim Cartee, Sr. While sometimes strict, my Grandfather practiced many of the same principles discussed in this blog entry when I was younger, therefore providing another father-figure to directly learn from about discipline and parental love.
(Sometimes it is hard to get even a small smile from Annabelle, but we successfully attained a photo with Granddad, despite her expressed moods.)
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