As a kid, I didn’t get in trouble often. When I did, I got spanked. Not because my parents were horrible people, but because that’s the way it was done when I was a kid in the 1980s. Like the time I took apart the oven door when I was 2 years old with a case knife. I got a spanking and never did it again. Corporeal punishment like spankings are out, replaced by non-violent punishments that I think might be harsher than spankings.
Lately, my Quora feed has been filled with questions about “did I ground my kid long enough or was I tough enough” for things, I wouldn’t ground a teen for, let alone, an older teen. Things like “I took away my 17 year old daughter’s phone and banned her from hanging out with friends for 4 months, because she dyed a pink streak in her hair. Should I have punished her more?” Um, seriously? You grounded her longer than that pink streak is going to last. And you basically told you’re nearly adult daughter, that she has to have your permission to do anything to her body, even when it isn’t permenant.
And my least favorite, I grounded my daughter for getting her second B in a subject. Um, I don’t know any kid who improved their grades because they were punished for it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, especially in school. Perhaps they got a B because they just aren’t grasping the material? Is grounding them for it going to make them suddenly comprehend the material on a level they haven’t before? Are they being bullied? Are they becoming depressed? Is there another emotional disorder coming to the surface? Is grounding them for a B, going to magically reveal what the problem is?
I sucked at algebra. I get it when I’m doing chemistry, but when I’m actually in an algebra class, well I might as well have drank a stupid potion before walking into the room. I actually sucked at all of junior high and high school. I graduated from high school with a 0.98 GPA on a 4.0 scale. I was bullied and I was bored. Then I scored a 34 on the ACT and a 1300 on the SAT. Despite my F average. When I graduated community college, I had a 4.0. When I graduated from the University of Missouri, I spoke 3 languages (along with English) and had a 3.9, because guess what, I still sucked at math.
Also, despite my F average, I got detention on 2 separate occasions for correcting my history teachers in class. I didn’t have to take comp and grammar in high school, my English skills were beyond advanced for it. Instead, I got to take a lit class. In 4th grade, I was reading and comprehending on a college level. And this is part of the reason I was bullied. Parents think that grades and appearance are forever.
Except, they aren’t. I get having rules, I had them growing up. But they weren’t random or arbitrary and they weren’t meant to control or stiffel me and I certainly wasn’t punished because being a teenager sucks beyond measure and getting a B isn’t all that big of a deal. As a matter of fact, my parents were more than happy to let me figure some things out for myself.
I’ll give you an example, I have no clue how dying my hair purple for the first time came about, but I was 12. I’m sure my cousin who is 12 years older than me had a hand in it, because you know, she was 24 at the time and super cool and let me spend time with her. I continued dying my hair. I went beyond purple twice. Once was blue. My father, specifically did a head shake at that. But my hair has literally only been blue once. The first day that I returned to school (I was 14 by then) with blue hair, someone asked if a Smurf had cum in my hair. Then as it washed out, it turned my entire head grey. Lesson learned. I have never dyed my hair blue again.
Did my parents ground me for my bad grades? Nope. They asked me why they existed. I was articulate, but let’s face it, I was a moody, miserable teenager. So, I didn’t know what the problem was. I just knew I hated school and everything about school. Classes that were mostly exams, I could pull out a D or a C, but classes that required participation and had lots of busy work, nope, not a chance.
Then one day, my mom sat down with guidance counselor and they sorted it out. And in 11th grade, I got 7 extra credits via correspondence courses through the University of Missouri. And instead of 11th grade English and 11th grade history, I took advanced classes: anthropology/archaeology and American Literature (Advanced Placement). I got As in both classes. I took geometry, because I despise Algebra, and I took chemistry because I love science and I did well in those classes too.
Not only had someone figured out, I wasn’t being challenged, but I had figured out, I didn’t care much about the opinions of my peers. Thank god for the cousin who was 12 years older than me and alternative classes. I went from an F student to a B student that year. My senior year, I got straight As, took 4 more correspondence classes and had the 21 credits I needed to graduate.
In the grand scheme of life, getting a B or having a pink streak or dying your entire head blue, isn’t a big deal. And I’d rather be spanked than grounded for 4 or 5 months. I find those types of punishments to be psychological torture, especially since the infractions are minor.
It’s not like dying a pink streak in your hair or getting a B means you’re smoking meth or pregnant. And hair dye isn’t a gateway drug, although overly rigid parents who psychologically torture their children for getting a B, might lead to drug use. Just food for thought.