Our recent story about Colanda and Eddie Harris ordering their 14-year-old to stand on a street corner with a sign, as punishment for stealing, struck a nerve with a lot of readers.
When I was about 8, some of my friends hatched a harebrained scheme to generate more candy money. It worked like this: They would deposit pop bottles at Thomas’ grocery, sneak back into the store and snag the bottles, wait for a while, then present them as if they were brand-new deposits.
Apart from the obvious fact that it was stealing, it sounded like way too much work; plus, the notion of what would happen at home as a result of getting caught was incentive enough for me to decline.
I’m all but certain my folks would have left me for dead beneath the dining room table.
Of course, my friends did get caught and were subsequently punished. Most lived to tell about it.
A recent story about Colanda and Eddie Harris ordering their 14-year-old to stand on a street corner with a sign as punishment for stealing struck a nerve with a lot of readers.
The Harrises said their son had about $65 but decided to shoplift a pair of $20 headphones from Kohl’s, a result, his mother said, of being a “follower.”
It’s clear the couple understands there is more at stake than a pair of headphones, so much so that they’re willing to be the “bad cops.” In punishing their son, they realize that you can do everything right as a parent, but if your kid becomes enamored with other children who have no boundaries, all of your hard work can vanish with a single call from the police.
There likely are some who take issue with the Harrises’ punishment, which included grounding their son and taking his cell phone and TV, but here in the real world, parents have so many challenges, they must try whatever works within reason, Junior’s self-esteem be damned.
Besides that, if kids can embarrass parents, why shouldn’t parents be allowed to embarrass kids every now and then, if it’s for their benefit?
From traveling sports teams to birthday blowouts to staving off disappointment, modern parents carry a self-imposed, Herculean burden. But in the 1960s, there was no such thing as a child-centric home. A child was a kind of second-class citizen. The universe revolved around adults’ priorities, and it never occurred to them to ask us how we felt about it.
They were, however, only too happy to inform you that to spoil you would be a disservice to you and society in general, a lesson rarely understood or appreciated when you’re 10.
Yet through it all, the message was clear: They loved us.
The Harrises get it, too. They know it’s better that their son stand embarrassed on a street corner today than before some judge’s bench tomorrow.
Charita Goshay writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact her at email@example.com.