I think it should start before that. I think parents should be held responsible when their kids act like little urchins in a restaurant or movie theater or any other public place. Get kicked out of a choice place you want to be once or twice, you’ll start acting like a parent-at least hopefully.
Now, this doesn’t mean parents have to start beating their kids to make them behave. Far from it. If it’s come to using physical force, you’ve already blown it. It means that parents have to parent. Teach them before the age of one that “no means no.” No is not being mean to your child. Saying no is saying that, at this time, this thing that you want is not in your best interest. Period. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it means go outside and play, you can’t have this now. Discussion over. That’s what parenting is.
But, if you’re in a grocery store these days, you don’t see that. You have little Johnny running up and down the aisles and mom is either laughing thinking her own kid is oh so adorable, or she’s on her cell phone not paying any attention to Johnny at all.
There was a piece in the papers here in Chicago a couple years back about a restaurant owner who was catching heat from some parent groups because he had a sign in the front of his restaurant saying, essentially, if you don’t keep your kids reined in, we’re going to ask you to leave. It didn’t say you couldn’t bring in kids-just that you have to show some control. Well, a group of parents began to protest. The owner’s response? Let ’em protest. My business is actually increasing.
The message here to all parents who don’t want to do their jobs is this. Not everybody else in the world finds your loud, whiny, out-of-control little spoiled monsters nearly as charming as you do. If you don’t start putting your foot down now, you’re going to lose control when they’re bigger than you and you’ll NEVER stop them from being criminals. If you can’t tell them to put something back that doesn’t belong to them when they’re two, how are you going to when they’re fifteen.
Make parents responsible for their kids? Yeah. But, they need to do it way before they’ve gotten into crime.