Parents’ Hard-Line Stance Will Serve Their Son Well

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John Rosemond tells the story of two boys who learned their lesson when their parents disciplined them.

Every so often, and usually just as I am about to resign myself to the folly of postmodern parenting, I run across a story involving parents who have not submitted to the madness, and I am rescued from my funk.

As reported in the Scottsbluff (Nebraska) Star-Herald on Nov. 13, 2008, two brothers, ages 12 and 15, were standing in the cold outside a Dollar General store in Gering, Neb., wearing orange placards that read: "My name is (withheld to protect the guilty). I was caught shoplifting at Dollar General. I will never shoplift again. Stealing and lying is WRONG." A photo of the boys accompanied the story. They did not look happy.

Their punishment was not handed out by a judge, but by their parents. In fact, on the day of their public humiliation, the older brother had yet to appear in court on a shoplifting charge. In addition, the boys had to write a letter of apology to the store and will spend a month deprived of their beloved electronics.

"I don't know what the judge is going to do, " said the older boy, probably thinking that nothing could be worse than what his parents had already done. The younger brother had been the lookout in the heist, but he admitted that he deserved being punished as well because, he said, "I was with him, and I didn't try to stop him."

The father is in the refrigeration business and happens to do business with Dollar General, but it doesn't sound like that had anything to do with his and his wife's decision to put the boys in the modern equivalent of the stocks.

"I won't tolerate a thief, and hopefully this will teach them that they need to make the right choices, " the father said. "When you steal, it takes money away from everybody."

Now, there's a stand-up guy. Quite obviously, he is not interested in being his sons' friend. That alone distinguishes him from some of today's dads who confuse "father" and "friend."

I'll bet this guy doesn't read parenting books, either. He probably has never set eyes on my newspaper column and would prefer to continue in that blissful state of uncommon sense. The best ending to the story was provided by the 15-year-old who said, "We will not do this again. We got in big trouble."

I take him at his word. His parents' willingness to heap unhappiness on him has greatly increased his chances of having a productive, responsible adulthood.

I love happy endings.

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