I received a phone call from a journalist yesterday who was looking for a comment about shock parenting. Apparently it’s method to teach children right from wrong. Was I aware that Rod Stewart used this technique?
The first part of that question simply made me roll my eyes. I’ll add it to the list along with helicopter parenting, present parenting, attachment parenting, eagle parenting or whatever trend is upsetting Daily Express readers this week.
The second part of that question, the bit about Rod Stewart, well this had me curious. I wanted to know more, although when I found out I was more than a little perturbed.
If various newspaper reports are to be believed, Penny Lancaster’s husband has been getting annoyed with his kids for failing to clean up after their pet dogs. His solution is to clear up the animal’s mess himself and leave it under their car seats.
On one memorable occasion, he is also supposed to have deposited such a charming package under his daughter’s pillow. Yes, you read that correctly: dog excrement left under his daughter’s pillow to teach her the difference between right and wrong.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear the song Do Ya Think I’m, Sexy? I guess Dirty Old Town would be more appropriate, but I’ll stop the bad jokes there.
Needless to say, I was asked outright if I would do the same with my kids. My response was an emphatic “no”, first of all citing the obvious health concerns and then raising the moral issues of using such harsh methods to teach your kids right from wrong.
It’s all very well having a laugh at Rod Stewart’s expense. In reality, we must all have heard stories of mums and dads using this approach with their kids. Be it throwing them into a swimming pool to teach them to swim or forcing them to smoke an entire pack of Gitanes cigarettes in one sitting if they were caught having a crafty B&H on the way home from school.
I was asked by the journalist to think back to my own childhood. “This’ll be good,” I thought, “There must be some bampot example my mother or stepfather made me do when I was a kid.”
I was mistaken. I couldn’t think of a single time my parents had employed this approach.
Both my parents experienced the joys of boarding school when they were growing up so if anyone was up for using a bit of tough love I had assumed it would be them. I was wrong to have jumped to that conclusion and I felt guilty for entertaining such a thought.
Shock parenting, if we really must give it a name, simply strikes me as wrong. We’ll all have our own thoughts, but as a father I think I have to lead by example.
It’s why I am no fan of the whole Father Christmas thing. You spend your entire life telling your kids to be honest and then lie to them once a year about some big guy coming down the chimney with presents (it strikes me that most parents go along with it for their own benefit, not to benefit their kids).
It’s also why I personally don’t believe in smacking. If I don’t want my kids to hit other people, I won’t smack them myself.
Whatever name you want to give your style of parenting, just set a good example for your kids. This, for me, includes avoiding Rod Stewart songs altogether. One or two Small Faces songs, maybe, but his solo work, nah, I’ll pass thanks.