Over the long nineteen year period … the problem was not with the handling of the boys. The problem was with my ex-wife. From day one, she did everything for them … clean their rooms, pick up after them, etc. If I assigned the boys a chore, she would do it for them if she could get away with it. We were never on the same page on this issue, and I knew if this continued on, this was not going to work!
Because of my ex-wife, the boys were being brought up to be lazy … spoiled brats … and of course they enjoyed it. If this continued, the boys were going to have trouble in school, getting a job later, and their self-esteem and confidence would suffer. For all those years, we butted heads as to what the boys did and did not do and it all came crashing down in divorce.
Putting it in simple terms … my wife was a softy … a push-over! Not only would the boys take advantage of her, but people at her workplace, family members and neighbors around the block. She was a doormat, as everyone would walk all over her. Over the years, I tried to do what I could change her, but I could not. One of the toughest words in the dictionary to say is the word “NO!” And, Wendy did not have the ability to say NO to anyone. She tried to be everything to everyone … and she or nobody else can do that! There is a line drawn in the sand for everything. An example follows:
I rolled into the driveway one day, and over near the front door, Jason (4 years old), was having a panic attack! Red-faced and screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing a temper tantrum! He had the front door propped open, and he was throwing mud-balls and other trash into the living room! Obviously, things were not going his way on this day. Mud-balls and other debris were scattered all over the living room carpet by this brat. As you might imagine, I was furious!
Where was Wendy in all of this? In the back of the house someplace. I called her to the living room and told her that this mess had to be cleaned up, and what did she do? Instead of telling Jason to clean it up, she scurried to get the vacuum cleaner and clean it up herself. This made me more mad! I was not surprised, as she could never confront the boys in anything because she would get yelled at! I quickly took the vacuum cleaner from her and told her that Jason was going to clean up the mess HE made!
“A man who trims himself to suit everyone, will whittle himself away.” Charles Schwab
I sent Jason back to his room, where he had a mini-broom and a mini-dust pan and put him to work. At four years old, Jason began the clean up. Little by little, he cleaned up most of the mess he created. I got the vacuum cleaner for him, and he pushed it around for a while, and sent him to his room.
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Before I met Wendy, she bought a new house and I’ll give the reader an idea what happens when there is little or no discipline in the household and two kids running wild. Within six months of the purchase of the house were following: all the screens were missing from all the windows; The front door was hanging from its hinges; A deep baseball imprint was on one of the living room walls; The back and front light fixtures were broken and wires dangling; Sheet rock in the garage was punched in with a hammer; Paint was spilled on the garage floor and left to dry and on and on and on! All of this from a three and a five-year-old! (These were two kids from a previous marriage for her) These two kids were tearing the place apart! After Wendy and I tied the knot, all this bad behavior by the boys came to a stop!
I come from a large family of ten kids … five boys and five girls, and obviously my parents had their hands full. Especially my mother who was a stay-at-home mom. My mother was a disciplinarian, and she had a black belt to prove it … literally. My father made her a black leather belt at his job and she used it when she had to. When my mother spoke … us kids listened and obeyed!
A person does not have to spank a child to discipline that child, in my view. In the nineteen years Wendy and I were together, I never laid a hand on those boys … I did not have to. My policy around the house was as follows: Everyone in the household messes up the house, and everyone cleans up the house. With a zero tolerance, everyone picks up after him or herself … no exceptions!
Wendy’s policy: Clean up after the whole family by herself if she has to, and pick up after everyone, so she can please everyone. If friends of the boys come over and trash the house, she’ll be glad to clean up the mess all by herself, etc.
Parents who spoil their kids will pay for it later, in my view. When I joined the Air Force, I went to Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio for boot camp. About a week after I arrived, about six recruitments had been sent home. Why? The US Air Force is not a baby-sitting service. And, I found out later from one of the T.I’s, that the recruiters were sent home because the Air Force does not take spoiled brats or mama’s boys! What was going to happen to these “boys” was that the Army would take them, and they would soon get a “greetings” from the US Army and, where the parents failed, the Army would take the “spoiled brat” out of these Fellows! So, the parents do a great injustice to a boy OR a girl when they spoil them.
There is not a woman in the world who wants a spoiled brat for a husband. Today, (2006), husbands do not help their wives as much as they should. And, those husbands who are not “mamas’s boys,” are just lazy! They do not want to do what they call, “woman’s work!” Later in the marriage, and in my view, the wives (can) make their husbands into spoiled brats, and the wives pay for it later, by not standing up to him, etc. (Ever wonder why the divorce rate is so high?)
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Prisons all across the nation, are filled with the lazy; spoiled brats; mama’s boys and girls; The irresponsible; People who are not accountable to anyone; Disrespectful of others and property; No integrity or values and who is responsible for all this bad behavior? THE PARENTS WHO FAILED IN RAISING THEIR KIDS! They did not teach their kids a work ethic; They spoiled them; No discipline … all added up to one of their children being in prison!
After nineteen years of a tug-of-war with Wendy, I was pleased with the way the boys turned out. I made them help me through every project I did around the house. Putting up a fence; Laying floor tile; Putting up wallpaper; Doing brickwork; Dump runs; Shoveling over 40 tons of gravel (when they were teens), and much more. They learned how to get blisters on their hands, etc. I was pleased that they both graduated from high school, and then they went on to graduate from college as well … Jason in the medical field and Kevin in criminology.
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I’m reminded of an experience that I had while driving down the road one time. The car sputtered and died while I was driving and I had to pull over. After 30 minutes of trying to get the car started, I finally had to call the auto club and get help.
When the tow truck arrived, the driver got out of the truck, and out of the passenger side, came a little boy about 10-12 years old. I guess the boy was riding around with his father to keep him company. Boy, was I wrong! Without a word from his father, that little boy came around the back of the tow truck and started working. Throwing chains off the tow truck; Going from side to side around the car and lining things up; And placing chains around the frame of the car! This ten year old kid was rigging everything up to my car! I was amazed!
He was pulling a lever here and a button over there, and when he finished the hook-up, the father spotted everything the boy had done, and the little boy pulled a lever on the truck and the car raised up where he wanted it! I was standing there, with my mouth opened watching this kid do his thing. When everything was finalized with the car, we all got into the tow truck, with the little boy sitting between us.
Peering from under a big baseball cap, I gave the little boy praise he deserves and he was enjoying it. I asked the father if his son helped around the house and he said, “Sure, all the time!” The father was teaching his little boy a work ethic and not to be lazy, and how to be responsible at a young age and I can not tell you how impressed I was.
And, this is what I wanted for Kevin and Jason. Not to drive a tow truck of course, but to have the work ethic that this little boy had. And, Kevin and Jason DID have that work ethic I was looking for. Along with Kevin and Jason and the little boy in the tow truck … I’m sorry, but I do not see any “mama’s boys” around here!