Friday, January 7, 2011

Flashback Friday - Discipline, Part 1

This week we're remembering the discipline and punishment in the homes of our growing-up years; next week we'll flashback to discipline at school. Reminder: If you came from an abusive background, please know that I am not trying to dredge up unhappy and difficult memories, nor do I expect you to air your family's dirty laundry in your post. I just thought it would be interesting to see how similar or different our experiences were and how that has impacted our lives today.
Were your parents strict, permissive, or somewhere in-between when you were growing up? Did you tend to be compliant or rebellious? What did you tend to get in trouble for doing? How did your parents discipline/punish you - spankings (and what did they use when spanking), revoking privileges, grounding, time-outs or some other manner? Did both parents handle punishment or did one tend to do it more than the other? (And which one was it?) Is there anything that you have admitted doing since you've been an adult that you got away with as a child? Or is there anything you were punished for that you have since learned your parents had to try hard not to laugh while they were meting out your discipline? If you are a parent, what is something you have done or not done (or vowed you would never do) as a result of your growing-up experiences with discipline?
My parents were very strict, especially my dad. They both had experienced the Depression and World War II, and life was serious business to them! Add to that their rather legalistic Christian beliefs and personalities which leaned toward perfectionism, and you can see why their children were expected to "straighten up and fly right," as the old saying goes!

Because my mom was home with us more than my dad, she was the one who doled out the punishment. We were spanked, generally with a specific belt that was only used for that purpose. I don't ever remember my mom spanking me in anger, nor did I feel then (or now) that it was abuse. (I also don't remember her ever saying, "This hurts me more than it hurts you!") I am the only one of the four kids that never received a spanking from our daddy. I was terrified of that possibility! I don't know why except that I was always tender-hearted and pretty compliant, and I did not want to be in major trouble with him. Plus he was really tall (6 ft 4 in)! I remember one time when I was maybe four or five when I was playing on the stairs after church while he counted the offering money in the upstairs office area. (He was the church treasurer.) I was running up and down the stairs, and all of a sudden he leaned over the part of the office that was open above the stairs and said in his stern, gruff voice, "If you don't settle down, I'm going to give you a spanking." I think I plopped down on the stairs and didn't move a muscle until it was time to go home! I pushed the limits with my mom a little more, but never with my dad!

What did I get spanked for? I don't remember many specifics. I remember trying to "hide" the food I hated by throwing it away in the trash with a pile of napkins without my mom knowing and getting in trouble for that. And one time I tried to sneak a doll to church for a skit in Training Union or GA's; that spanking was one that I always felt wasn't really fair. My ultra-conservative parents hated dramas in church, so when the teacher told me to bring a doll, I thought I would get in trouble for taking it, so I hid it in the bottom of the sack. I wasn't deliberately trying to be rebellious; I just felt like I was in a no-win situation. I always wished she had tried to see what the motivation of my heart was instead of immediately punishing the deed. Other than those two instances, I'm sure they were just random disobedient acts. Sometimes she would just bring the belt into the room as a warning and that usually turned me around pretty quickly.

I always appreciated that my mom always took care of the discipline problem immediately. She never uttered the infamous "Wait 'til your father gets home." (I'm not sure my heart could have handled waiting and dreading for my dad to come home!)

As much as I might wish my parents had done things differently at times, being a parent myself has made me realize that no one is perfect and that (most) parents do the best they can at the time. In fact, I told one of my never-married sisters who was griping about some things our folks had done that she didn't have the perspective they had and that "I cut our parents a lot more slack now that I have kids!"

I don't remember ever "getting by" with anything or hearing that my parents thought any of our antics were funny. But one of those did happen last year when we were all at my MIL's house. As the conversation took a certain reminiscent turn, one of my BILs said, "Since I'm 50, I guess it's safe to tell what I did!" The actual deed was pretty funny, but not as funny as his finally owning up to it!

Some folks say the youngest child has it the easiest because the parents have relaxed a bit. I never felt that way! In fact, because I was the only one left at home when my siblings were in college, I heard my dad voice his displeasure (either to them or my mom) when one of them made a choice he didn't like and that pretty much kept me toeing the line.

I did commit one "big" act of rebellion, and I hope this doesn't horrify you too much: when I was 18 and in my first semester in college, I GOT MY EARS PIERCED! I was sowing some wild oats there, wasn't I?!

So what are your memories of crime and punishment when you were growing up? Share your memories and link up here!


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quilly said...

I didn't do any rebelling until my senior year -- and then the things I did could fill a blog! Getting your ears pierced was, indeed, tame!


I was too fearful to try to be rebellious so I kept a fairly low profile....when younger, mother was the one that disciplined us...but lord help us if it got to the point that daddy had to step in...the belt always came out!! Thank goodness that didn't happen too many times!


Cathy said...

Love your memories Linda. Our discipline was a little different, but I was "afraid" of my dad too. I really can't remember ever getting a spanking I didn't deserve.

Kathy said...

Good memories, Linda. I laughed about the ear piercing :) I was 21 before I had mine done...

Maude Lynn said...

The ear piercing made me laugh!

Barbara H. said...

I remember my father's discipline more than my mother's, though we were with her more than my dad, too. I can't remember ever being punished by her, though I am sure I must've been.

sara said...

I had to laugh out loud about the ear piercing!! I got my ears DOUBLE pierced when I was 17 and in my first semester at college..that was back in the 70s when "people didn't do that". My mom about had a heart attack!!!

I have apologized to my parents for many things since I became a parent! :)

Susan said...

Can't say I rebelled, though when I got a tattoo mom was very upset about it (guess I should also mention I was 30 years old when I got the tattoo, small, simple, cute and feminine but she was still upset.)

bekahcubed said...

Love the earring rebellion--my mom pierced her own ears at age 16. Apparently my grandpa was pretty upset about it: "If God'd wanted you to have more holes in your head, He'd have put them there Himself!"

I got my ears pierced when I was eight. They immediately got infected, making me wish I hadn't caught the "ear-piercing" bug when my sister and cousin were getting theirs pierced.

bp said...

Late but I did get it up today!

Have a nice Sunday!