- Who in your family was the person who made and enforced rules?
- Did you grow up with many rules, or was your life a little more flexible?
- Were you a rule follower or a rule breaker?
- How were discipline and – in contrast – rewards managed in your household?
- Were you given the opportunity to plead your case in matters of disagreement?
- What tools did your parents use – ‘I’m going to count to three‘ or ‘don’t make me get up‘ or a time-out chair?
- Did fear of discipline curb your desire to break or bend the rules?
- Did your upbringing influence the way you (as an adult) managed rules in your own home?
- Were you ever ‘grounded’? Do you want to share the story?
- Did you break rules your parents never knew about? Want to confess and leave with a clear conscious? No?
Rules, rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules! (Certainly not my parents’ thoughts.). By the time they had filtered down to me, their fourth and final daughter, there were many more and much stricter—thanks a lot sisters.
Fear was my main deterrent of course, but I only remember being actually spanked once. It was the “go out and bring a switch back to me” and (you had better pick a big enough one) I hated to hear but that was rare for me. The reason was that I was smart enough to see the examples of discipline portrayed on my next oldest sister. My two older sisters broke the rules but were either punished, dismissed, or got away with whatever our parents determined unacceptable.
Unfortunately I also was sometimes a disciplinarian as a parent. I mistakenly wanted everything to be perfect—and naturally those expectations caused frustration. I realize this was a mental defect and I don’t hold this attitude with my grandchildren. I think this comes from expecting a romantic fantasy marriage, and never had a spoken determent from my parents; they were too busy to realize, maybe? It was unrealistic as I look back, stupid and doesn’t achieve a natural respect, just fear and resentment. We all learned the hard way.
This is a confession of sorts, a regret I hold daily, as do some of my siblings. Actions are usually mimicked and carried on in families—it’s an unfortunate fact, just as alcohol, drug abuse, bad behavior and attitude.
But I am extremely happy to report this ended with me in my nuclear family.