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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Whatever happened to discipline?

Whilst flicking through my usual daily blogreads, I came across this post which reminded me of a little scene I witnessed between a mother and daughter not too long ago.

MDH and I were at the post office queueing up for some stamps. In front of us was a mother in her early thirties, who had come with her little eight-year-old daughter. The little girl was a few feet away from her mum, browsing quietly through the post office shop which (amongst other things), sold some children's toys.

Little Girl picked up a doll, looked at her mum and said, "I want this doll."

You could tell from the tone in Little Girl's voice that she was a highly experienced fighter when it came to the battle of wills.

Mother looked at her, saying "No. You already have so many dolls at home. I'm not buying it. Put it back."

Little Girl says, "I want this doll; it's mine."

Mother says, "But I already bought you something today. Don't be naughty. Put it back now, please."

Notice, if you will, that Mother is pleading with Little Girl. Little Girl isn't shouting or crying - she is speaking calmly.

Little Girl says, "No, it's my doll. I want it."

Mother says, "If you don't put it back now, no more television when you get home."

Little Girl walks up to the post office window and puts the doll on the counter. She is perfectly calm. She knows the doll is already hers. The Mother turns pale. We all know that she is going to have to maintain discipline, which will probably lead to a loud and highly embarassing scene as she drags her daughter screaming from the post office.

There is a long pause. Everybody is watching with bated breath.

Mother says, "Well...alright then."

MDH and I look at each other in horror. We turn and see a whole row of old ladies standing behind us, shaking their heads like sad puppets. All of us watch desparingly as the family walks out the door, Little Girl holding her doll like a trophy. The spoils of war.

Child 1, Parent 0.


Blogger wahj said...

bah. In the old days it would've been:

"Policeman will come and catch you!"

= )

9:55 pm  
Blogger Tym said...

I find myself saying that a lot, "Whatever happened to discipline?", "My parents would never let me get away with that!" and so on. I can't decide if we all get crotchety in our old age :) and all this hearkening back to the golden age is just every generation's way of coming to terms with change, or if there has in fact been a noticeable change in how children are brought up.

In Singapore, we tend to associate the change with the proliferation of maids as primary caregivers and the fact that both parents usually work. Naturally, this assumes that the mother's going out to work is to blame, since otherwise the family wouldn't need the maid --- instead of questioning what alternative forms of caregiving might be arranged, bearing in mind that the father equally culpable as the mother.

10:42 am  
Blogger tscd said...

wahj: This little girl was precocious enough to play mindgames with her mother and win. Besides, most little kids know an empty threat when they hear one. I certainly did.

tym: I don't know. I think that even with maids around it is still up to parents to maintain discipline and to enforce authority. Authority doesn't always need to be in the immediate vicinity before it is respected. Maids should be able to say 'Don't do that or your mother/father will be angry' and that alone should be enough.

9:27 pm  
Anonymous spots said...

oh horror... i pray i will never allow daniel to do that to me... :)

5:12 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

spots: I think as long as you're aware that children are quite capable of manipulation, you'll be alright.

3:59 am  

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