When I was a young writer, I was invited to take the full tour in the Raiford Prison in Raiford, Florida. We went through the death house and while the Electric Chair has been discarded by many states, it was very active then. I spoke with some of the inmates in the death house. In just seven hours, one was to take the last 22 steps to the chair and his own death. Who is he? Where was he born? What events brought him to this place? Who’ll throw the switch? Where will he be buried? Who cares?
As I marked off the twenty two steps to be taken, I thought of some twenty-two steps that might just lead one to this place and to the Chair.
(1) Begin early and give the child anything and everything he wants. Then he will believe the world owes him a living.
(2) Do everything for him. Bear his responsibilities at every turn. He will learn to throw his burdens on others.
(3) Make him thoroughly dependent on you by waiting on him hand and foot. The habit will be well established and he can rightly blame others for his own failures.
(4) Praise him lavishly in his presence. Show him how much smarter he is than other children.
(5) Permit and encourage the child to do as he pleases. He will expect the same privilege in society.
(6) Tell religious jokes in his presence. Talk about those “Holier than thou” and have a good laugh at the expense of the “Holy Joes”.
(7) Lose your patience often and easily. Blow up and bluster and blast the air around your child. Prepare him for tensions, headaches and ulcers.
(8) Tell people, especially in his presence, that your child never does anything wrong. Policemen can be wrong – teachers can be wrong, but he is never wrong.
(9) Call him clumsy and stupid and talk about his sorry attitude and how that he will never amount to much in this life. Use the word CAN’T as often as possible.
(10) Find fault with him often. Never compliment him on the things he does well.
(11) Nag him constantly.
(12) Be down on the government. Tell him all politicians are rotten and corrupt. Tell him that his generation is ‘going to the dogs’.
(13) Interrogate him. Where have you been, when did you get there? Who did you go with? This should cause him to quit telling you anything and just clam up.