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Debbie does Discourse
In July 11 Issue
Russell County News
By Debbie Bell, Columnist

There are many reasons why we are raising a lost generation of children.

The overuse of technology is creating physically unfit and unimaginative children. Then there is the overall lack of supervision. We don’t teach our children morals and common courtesy. But, one of the biggest reasons for this lost generation is the lack of corporal punishment that our society has deemed unacceptable and sometimes downright illegal.

Discipline was very different when I was a child. It was swift and consistent. Both of my parents had what I called “The Look.”

If they gave you this look for very long I seriously believed you would turn to stone.

Then there was the use of your full name. Oh dear. Even today, whenever I hear “Debra Kay,” I stop whatever I’m doing. It terrifies me. As children we had to pick our own switch and it had better not be a thin twig.

If it wasn’t to Dad’s liking, he would pull up a full grown tree and spank you with it. I had many deserved switchings throughout the years but three of those punishments come most clearly to mind.

These stories are legendary in my family, told at all reunions and get-togethers. Sort of like Chicken George’s stories in “Roots.” Only when our movies is filmed it will be called “Chronicles of a Redneck Clan.”

One day when I was a young child I gathered up my dad’s six beagle pups and I proceeded to the outhouse. I dropped three pups down one hole and three down the other. Now, don’t get your bowels in an uproar, PETA, they all survived.

I can still hear my dad, up to his neck in doo-doo, screaming “Debra Kay, when I get out of here you are going to get the whipping of your life.”

I was around five or six years old when I decided to try out the big F-bomb for the first time. I had no idea what it meant, it was just one of those words that you did not say.

My dad’s parent’s where what I call “Old Chronies.” They didn’t believe in having fun or smiling. On Sunday afternoons they would gather around their wrap-around porch with many others like them and have church. They would sing those mournful songs of death and damnation.

I don’t know what possessed me but I decided it would be the perfect time to try that bad word out. I stood in front of all of them and loudly let the F-bomb fly. The looks on their faces was priceless. My dad bounded off the porch and said “Don’t run Debra Kay, it’ll be 100 times worse.”

Of course I ran. Around and around that yard I went with my dad huffing and puffing behind me. Every time I passed the old chronies, I’d let it slip from my mouth again and again. And yes, when I was finally caught I did get the whole tree.

Corporal punishment didn’t stop when we got older either. When I was 16 it was the fad to wear very short mini-skirts and dresses. In the dead of winter, with three feet of snow on the ground, I decided to wear an exceptionally short one to school one day. My dad refused to let me wear it so I went to my room, took off all my clothes, went outside completely naked and sat under a tree. Having many neighbors I figured my dad would be embarrassed and let me come back inside, put the dress back on and head to school. But no, he locked the door and made me sit out there in the snow for what seemed like hours. When he finally let me back in he switched my legs until the bled. The next day I wore a dress to school, promptly went to the office and showed them my pitiful legs. They sent someone out to talk to my parents but after hearing their side, they agreed with them. Then I was again punished for shooting my mouth off.

That wouldn’t happen today. Threaten a child with a spanking now and they’ll get all up in your face and say they are going to call 911. Children rule the roost nowadays. Parents have lost all control and are afraid to discipline their child. When my kids first entered school a note was sent home asking if it was okay to spank them. I wrote back “Yes, and could you please videotape it, because I would love to have a copy.”

A couple I know had a very unruly, drug addicted teen daughter who was sneaking out of the house to see a much older man. One day the father went to the man’s house to retrieve his daughter. A confrontation took place in the yard with the daughter getting up in the father’s face and calling him every name in the book. Finally, her father slapped her across the face, put her in the car and took her home. A nosy neighbor witnessed the incident and called 911. This couple was forced to take parenting classes and to sign a contract stating they would never hit their child again.

Here’s a tall but true tale that we’ll entitle “The New Millennium Brady Bunch.” It is a story about a man named Brady who was busy raising, well partial custody, two boys of his own, Peter, 12, and Bobby, 6. Then there is the lovely lady who was raising her controlling, manipualtive, sexually promiscuous 15-year-old daughter, we’ll call her “Marsha.” One day this lady met this fellow and you know the rest, that’s the way they became the Brady Bunch. Trouble loomed, it was much more than a hunch. Neither Mr. or Mrs. Brady worked, they enjoyed living ogg government assistance. They stayed up all night and slept all day, leaving the children unattended.

Soon, Peter never wanted to leave hsi dad’s house. He only wanted to be with Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

One day the boy’s uncle noticed something on Peter’s neck that resembled a hickey. When the uncle inquired as to what it was, Peter said, “Marsha bit me.”

The uncle went to discuss the situation with his brother and his new wife. They laughed, said it was just child’s play and told him to mind his own business. A few days later the uncle encountered this nephew agaun. Peter was wearing a coat, the uncle discovered a ring of hickies around his neck.

Now, the boy’s mother and uncle will probably have to fight a legal battle to remove these boy’s from an unsafe and unsupervised atmosphere. If not, we’ll be watching a new show called “Peter Fathers baby at age 12.”

We all love our children and hate to punish them. To not do so, would make us unfit as parents. Even as adults, we all have laws and rules that we must abide by.

Something my father always said as he was spanking me comes to mind.

I didn’t understand then but I certainly do now. He would look at me with tears in his eyes and say “This is going to hurt me a lot more than it is going to hurt you.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Till next time, Forward Ho!

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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