The army drill sergeant ran his household on a strict military basis. Everything was done “according to the book”. Each expense registered by his wife or their three children had to go by requisition. There were no exceptions. Discipline was by regulations. There was taps played at night and the usual wake-up blast in the morning.
One afternoon, receiving papers on the three boys called for a formal review. They trouped in side by side and stood at attention. “Charles, this report says you made two “C’s” on your report card. Is that correct?” “Yes Sir.” came the reply. “Study time will be increased to two hours each night. Is that understood?” “Yes Sir.” “Any Questions?” “No Sir!” “Dismiss.”
He turned to the next boy in line. “John, your mother has stated that you have been late coming home from school in the past week. Is that true?” “Yes Sir.” “The penalty, according to the manual is to write a theme of three pages stating your regret and feeling of remorse, any questions?” “No Sir.” With the clicking of heels and the stern salute John was dismissed.
The father turned his attention to the youngest. He was just six year old. With a stern face, he heard the words read on his behavior report. “Willie, it is written here you have talked back to your mother and have disobeyed her instructions twice. Is that true?” “Yes Sir”, came the words loud and clear. “You are to have your bicycle impounded for a period of not more that one week or less than five days. Is that understood?” “Yes Sir.” The little boy stood ramrod straight. “Any questions?” “Yes Sir.” “Well what is it?’ The father asked in a strong voice. “Sir, how do you get a transfer out of this lousy outfit?”
While I write no insult to our families that are in the service, and while this joke would be the rare exception, it does bring up a good question. What do our children do that are under trained or over ruled?
If your house is like a carnival, and your kids are out of control, begin by sitting down with them and stating the facts. “John, you have been sassing mother and Fred you have been lying and Willie you have been a serious problem at school.” Your mother and I have failed each of you in allowing this to happen and be repeated. We have threatened you but it has done no good. We have been inconsistent in our discipline and training. We are asking each of you to FORGIVE US!!
They will smell amnesty in these words and they will gladly answer. Ask each one to say the words out loud, “I forgive you.” When they have confirmed your forgiveness, then say, “Now we forgive you”, calling each by name. “The past is over and not to be mentioned again, BUT AS OF RIGHT NOW, THIS IS THE WAY WE ARE GOING TO LIVE IN OUR HOUSE!!”
Here are simple principles that may help guide you. It won’t be easy and in fact, the first couple of week will be tough. (1) From now on, we shall live by the simple rule of “A ONE TIME TELL“. This idea that “I told you”, and “told you”, and “told you”, is replaced now by this new standard. When you understand what is said, it then becomes your responsibility and yours alone to act upon it. A failure to do so will bring specific results that you will not find pleasant. The result of this rule will underline “THE BEAUTY OF SIMPLE OBEDIENCE.”
(2) You are our children, and we are Mom and dad. This is our house not yours. You live here a while, but then you grow up and marry and leave. When all of you are gone, we will still be here. You don’t pay the rent or mortgage, the water bill or utilities. You don’t buy your clothes or see them washed, dried and folded. You eat food that is paid for out of our pocket. We bought the car and you don’t even pay for the gas. You are learning to grow up and it takes time. We are the teachers and you are the learners. The beauty of simple obedience begins with “A One Time Tell“.
Anytime you think you are old enough to make your own way, we will try to get together a ‘grub stake’ for you. Our front door swings both ways. The conclusion is simple: it is time that you begin to bear your own responsibility. Simple obedience is a beautiful thing and a ‘one time tell’ is the foundation of maturity.
Try these simple instructions with your children and see how they react. “Come here.” “Stand there.” “Walk this way”. “Sit in this chair.” “Go in the other room and wait for me.” “Eat what’s set before you.” “Be quiet”. “Time for bed”. “Do your homework.” “Take out the garbage.” “No means no!” “Call home if you’ll be out past midnight.” “That’s not our kind of buying.” “Grow up!”
Put a bold sign on the frig, “You’re no bargain to live with either” Then add another one in large letters, ALWAYS REMEMBER “WE LOVE YOU.” Take control of your own home again and set the standard for your children and grand-children.