I feel like there’s an innate ability to parent a child under the age of 1, basic care and feeding. Most people who have a baby can do that, unless they are warped in some way. Most of it is a game of getting the kid on a schedule of sleeping, eating, and playing so they develop eyesight, body control, and communication skills. Also, you can’t leave them alone with a gun or a violent-breed dog, which are about the same thing in cultures that see either a gun or a pit bull as a status symbol above having a child. Anybody can have a baby, but it takes about a week and a couple hundred dollars to get a gun or a pit bull. I’m not saying I’m doing all of this perfectly, but I’m sure as shit not letting people I know, and people you know, get away with being or raising narcissists.
Anyway… After the kid’s 1 they need boundaries. Not just a boundary of a baby-gate to keep them from barrel-rolling down the basement staircase. Nor a leash to keep them in peripheral view while Parent does some on-line gaming. No, I mean intellectual & behavioral boundaries. In other words, working to help the child understand why NO is not a bad thing. I have seen up-close the effect of no “No,” in people my age (sociopaths) and children (theirs and others), and it is about as unnerving as watching a pit bull gnaw at a loaded Glock .40cal.
The first thing I noticed was a person’s whining. For the adults it was usually an issue in a restaurant where they equated a missing item on the menu with a personal attack. A guy I grew up with pulled this a few times, and the second time he did, I saw what he was doing… because he’s a cheap asshole who plays this game, and doesn’t realize he’s the flat tire on the fun bus. Here’s the ploy:
1) Ask to modify a menu item by complicating the order (The cheeseburger, but with swiss instead of cheddar and an onion roll instead of regular and no pickles and medium-well).
2) Keep talking while the server tries to read it back, to confuse the server or muddle the communication.
3) Fries on the side, not on the plate.
4) Act like it’s no big deal and be just oh-so-sweet about it.
So, by telling this server to greatly change a simple thing, they set the entire chain up for failure. And usually it’s a break at how the meat was cooked. The average person doesn’t know Medium-well from Medium, but this fuckpuddle would always eat half the burger then send it back for being under- or over-done, and ta-daaa!
We all have to wait while they make a new burger for this dick, and he gets his for free as an apology for upsetting a grown man over the hue of the center of his meat patty. The heavens nearly crumbled…
As a child he got what he wanted by whining, because his parents had 4 other kids, and his whining was quickly shut-down/rewarded with the cookie, the toy, the shoes, the extra hour of TV, the 17”-rims on the new truck, and eventually the family landscaping business which he plowed into the ground after 4 months and zero work. Whining isn’t in his DNA (his brothers and sisters are talented, fun, hard-working people) but it is hardwired in at this point. He’s now divorced and bankrupt and it’s his parent’s fault for not helping him out of these jams, of course.
The last time I saw him he started to pull the prank, I told our server, “He’s fine, don’t listen to him, he’s just joking.” He got pissed at me and sat quietly staring at SportsCenter while the other 4 of us laughed and drank. That’s right…
HE POUTED LIKE A LITTLE KID. Later he told another friend I was a dick. Behind my back. Good.
Now, a friend’s kid is a spoiled little brat if ever I’ve seen one. As an only child, he is treated like THE only child. His deal is that if he’s told “No” he reverts to pouting (he’s almost 6) and whiiiines and starts to fake-cry. His parents let it roll for about 3min while the kid stews in his own stink and then eventually, while the kid is still in pout mode, his parents say “Ok, you can have this now.”
So the kid hasn’t detached Pouting from Reward. Maybe his mom & dad think they have instilled a clean break between the whining and the lesson, but all they’ve shown the kid is, “Hey, hang on to being rude and withdrawn and eventually you’ll get what you want. You don’t have to apologize or ask nicely. Just be stubborn.”
I know this because I’ve seen it happen a few times. One time he tried to take a toy from another kid, and I said “No, you have to ask nicely if you can play with the Ninja Monster PitBull Cannon.”
Then he cries and says he hates me, which I find a way to overcome. Then he sits right there and turns away and cries loudly, as if his fingernails were being chewed off by a bullet-powered Rottweiler. Because of a “no,” and a reminder to mind our manners.
His dad swoops in, lest his child be scarred for life with such harsh discipline! After explaining to his dad what happened, his dad does the fatherly thing…
And asks the kid with the Ninja Cannon if his kid could play with it. Well of course the kid’s gonna give it up because a grown-up just asked him to. So not only did his dad miss the teachable moment, he killed the kid’s chance to build manners and a bridge to another kid. Double Middle Fingers, folks. But hey, at least his son quit crying, pouting, whining, or moving on towards growth. Yay.
It’s not easy to have your own boundaries, but it’s a basic need for most of us to keep our sanity. And it starts early. If we’re always told “No,” then we don’t think we’re worth anything and deserve nothing. If we’re never told “No” we don’t understand that some things must be earned, asked-for, or are just off-limits until further notice and some sweet talking and probably a bottle of wine.
But if somebody brings a loaded gun or chain-jerking pit bull into a Farmer’s Market, and nobody says “Hey, come on… This could get ugly, and it’s better safe than sorry,” and something terrible happens then either we have no market for these dipshits to come to, or we have boundaries that say “You have to stop here. There are very sensitive people within.”