The proverb, "Children should be seen and not heard."
This is "Extreme parental style #1". According to Don"s dad, this is the only way to raise a child. Children do not make decisions.
Don, age 12, was mentally and physically wretched. He entered in handcuffs. He lived on and off the streets. He and his father lived with a woman who was employed, but she disliked Don. He enrolled dirty with multiple insect bites covering his body with lesions around his anus. He appeared somnolent-sleepy. His father dispensed medications inconsistently from a tin box in accordance to Don's behavior and withheld bowel medication to discipline him. His appearance was worse than a Charles Dickens' street urchins. When time permitted, the nursing staff washed him before school and gave him clean clothes, but the following day Don would appear in his old clothes for school.
Staff reported that the father had Don on Trazadone, but the father denied this. During free choice time Don would sit in a corner re-enacting sexual behavior of adults adults he had witnessed. It was overwhelming. Don uses drugs.
Extreme parental style #2. We make all decisions together. I am your best friend. (Mother/daughters were the most common on the ward.) These children were the most disconcerting to help. Their situation confusing and toooooo perplexing for ages five to twelve years old. The parent or caregiver had "empowered" the child in family decisions. The sweetness buried the child's own identity. In public the child looked perfectly accepting of the situation. Too late to escape the emotional smothering that had covertly encompassed the child.
To today's parents:
1. Allow children to make some decisions. Be wary of toooo much clout. (You are the boss. You are wiser. You are not their best friend)
2. Parenting comes first. Best friends categories, often, means the parent or caregiver, or the child is filling a personal void. The child doesn't develop their own incentives, if parents organize the child's life around themselves. (Entitlements often creep in)
3. Set limits by having fewer options, especially, younger children.
Extreme parental styles lead to drug use and suicide, according to my Mayo Clinic teaching experience. Parents and or caregivers make the 'family' involved decisions with these last words heard,
"This is a family."
'Curve balls' lingering on my mind from the July 4th celebrations lead me to the perpetual parental learning curve for drug use. The "Makes us all happy" and the never, never land of expectations makes adult behavior acceptable. The mental-health sectors struggle with breaking the history of behavioral patterns for children.
The "Bell Curve" helped my class, my mental-health patients, understand the "preachy, boring, 'spouty', brainy kid. I , only, drew the curve and scattered dots representing subjective measures of "like football as a sport" for children, friends, parents, and caregivers all over the board. I then drew a red curve through the general flow of dots. They could see that the skewed graph was similar to a bell. I, then, labeled the graph using the normal distribution theory of Charles Murray's Bell Curve - only, at face value- and chose a dot from the myriad dots in the "Some People" and labeled it Alan.
Alan understood things "generally" were or were not acceptable. But it was okay to be in different places on the curve. But not to expect everyone else to be at the same dot as himself. He was reminded to choose a different behavior - move your dot somewhere in "Most People". You are the new energy to conquer the new. Begin where you are today - not thinking about where I am!
The children's perception of negativism in public or in front of peers permeates their psyche. But role models take a pill, a drink, or both to "cure" and cope. These behaviors are seen and copied. "You act like your grandpa. He couldn't spell. Your just like your your mother, dumb in math. 'Scared y' cat just like your sister... and on and on." (I've heard them all). The child thinks, "Yah, and I love him or her. I want to be just like him or her. Well, parents, that is a done deal. Take it from Dr. Kaye, "You've got that covered."
"I'm gonna be like you dad." (Cat's in the Cradle, song by Harry Chapin). Fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers watch and listen to yourself. You are not vying for more love or more importance than others . You are creating a being more special than you. The 'future" of these little ones. Watch. See your actions. Do your actions, especially medications and drugs, fulfill,
"You know I'm gonna be like you."
The Fourth of July brings this tale from my past to life - baseball, hotdogs, water melons, and the "curve ball".
Life's freedoms come with unexpected difficulties, curve balls. I, especially, remember the curve balls, thrown, at birth, at baby Robert. He was unplanned and unwanted. His mother used marijuana before conception, but used no chemicals during pregnancy other than smoking cigarettes. Her drug use began at age 12. When Robert was six his mother was treated for chemical dependency. Her father, mother, and sisters had histories of depression. Robert's paternal grandfather had alcohol problems. "You are out! Oh, no, you haven't been up to bat, yet."
Robert came to the "lock-in" school at age 10. He had been frustrated in public school and had threatened violence toward is EBD (Emotional Behavior Disability) class. He had a history of enuresis that appeared secondary in nature. He had frequent conflicts with his mother. Many of his urination, bed-wetting episodes happened on weekends with his biological father (who had alcohol problems). Robert's mom had been married when she was 16 and his dad 19. Since the divorce she had had two relationships with other men; one lived with them twice. (Let freedom ring - but not for Robert)
Robert's three strikes: 1. Say what you are thinking. 2. Hear my words. 3. Use your words. (He had not learned them.)
Clyde, on the other hand, had been hit by a "fast pitch" that he never saw coming. He had attacked a boy in the final round of a history competition. The other boy laughed at him when Clyde placed second. Clyde had run down the aisle and assaulted him. Clyde's father had had difficulty pulling Clyde off the other boy. The final "grand slam" to Clyde's psyche, his best friend had taken first and had earned a position on the state history team.
Coaching these two boys, toward the best defense against not losing freedom of expression. To improve their up-to-bat average they needed to understand: Passion without punching. Two perspectives. Two perceptions. These two were 'behind the curve', but their batting averages did improve under cognitive care.
My batting average for the Fourth of July memory, '500' ;)
Kaye is a teacher and author of multiple works including Valerie Valentine Visits Vincent Vampire