I don’t know about you, but I think there’s a whole lot of nonsense written about child rearing these days. When I was a lad, we were routinely locked in cupboards, given six of the best and mother and father would routinely leave us to fend for ourselves for a week or so twice a year. Made me who I am today, it did and it certainly didn’t do me any harm.
Personally, I blame the 60s for all this over-cuddly familiarity with the offspring. Everyone is so keen to be everyone else’s friend that we’ve forgotten the basics about who’s who. The local book shop is full of rubbish about ‘nurture’ and helping children ‘develop identity’. Rot I call it; character’s what they need! So I wrote this guide for you, the fledgling fuc… I mean father, to help you on the road to making your family what you damn well tell them to be.
1. Don’t use children’s names: these are all very well for filling in on forms and I suppose they are traditional, but generally they can be dispensed with. I find a number is much more effective. If you are sentimental then you can always use ‘number 1 son’ or ‘number 3 daughter’ but personally I prefer to economise on breath. Children will quickly know who you mean and it keeps communications brisk and functional, creating a lovely gulag type feel about the home. These are best used when speaking directly to a child. When speaking about them to another adult in their presence, refer to them in the 3rd person, for example ‘the boy needs to clean his shoes before he goes to bed.’ This helps to demarcate clearly between adults and children and they will greatly appreciate this show of acknowledgement.
2. Choose your words carefully: you need to speak in commands and these need to be easily understood at a distance. For example, saying ‘come here’ can easily become jumbled in the mind of the child. Much better is to simply use the word “report!” This can be heard clearly and is effective. The same applies to when you wish your child to stop doing something. Saying “stop doing that” is a mess. Much better is a single, sharp “desist!” and they will soon get the message! Combine this with the number system explained in point 1, and you’ll soon have them performing for you like a troop of circus monkeys.
3. Isolation: ideally, you will move your family to a desert island where you can rule them as a king, however this option isn’t available to those of us who have yet to have our innate brilliance recognised. Certainly, you want to remain a safe distance from in-laws, close friends and other do-gooders; the sorts who begin talking nonsense about rights and asking questions. A few hundred miles will do. If you can, move to a rural area, preferably with poor communication links, no shops and few people to talk to. Plus, you’ll have the beauty of nature with which to remind them what a wonderful parent and provider you are for bringing them to live here.
4. Financial control: it is absolutely key for you to have sole control over the money. You won’t allow your partner to work (who knows what they’ll get up to!) and you’ll need to organise how money is spent closely. If you allow your partner to have a separate account, you must decide how much is paid into it each month. Allow only enough for the basics and ensure that it is accounted for. It is worth allowing that little extra so they can treat themselves to a hair cut or buying some new socks once in a while ( you don’t want them in rags, it will reflect badly on you). The benefit of this is that they will be thankful for these small offerings and you can ensure that they are not allowed to forget it in a hurry. Remember to check statements and credit card bills so you can play merry hell if they get ideas above their station and start going out for coffee while you’re slaving away at work.
5. You come first: it is imperative that children understand that your needs come first. It is the duty of your partner to meet your needs before theirs. Be aware of opportunities where you can demonstrate this accordingly. Sulking on their birthday is a great way to draw attention away and reaffirm who is actually the centre the universe here. Should one of your children require hospital treatment for an appendicitis or some such emergency, make it clear that your partner needs to come home and cook your tea rather than loitering around in an A&E corridor.
6. Punishments: contrary to common belief, physical chastisements aren’t always very effective. Better by far is the threat of force. Make sure these are unspecific yet worded in terms that will leave the transgressors in no doubt as to the demise they face if they cross you again. The holy books of the various monotheistic religions are a good source for smiting words and phrases and it is always worth making it clear that the Almighty is on your side, whatever flavour your faith is. Personally, I like sending the children to their room with an instruction to remain there and I will ‘deal with them’ shortly. I then enjoy watching the clock and making sure I act when it isn’t expected. Sometimes I leave them 2 minutes, sometimes an hour. The important thing is to keep them on their toes while you savour the anticipation.
7. Physical punishments: sometimes, you have to do this. It is for their own good and children need to learn. I like to call it ‘clearing the air’. The important thing is that you ensure that you act without hesitation and that the perpetrator remembers the event in future. Don’t get drawn into a discussion about whether you have all the facts about the situation; if in doubt just thrash all of them. That way, they won’t repeat their behaviour. They will cry, plead and avoid you for a while; it is important to ignore this display of petty behaviour which is actually just a form of attention seeking. A cuff round the back of the head is quick and easy to dispense; there is also the option to put them over your knee. Older children can be grabbed by the throat or hair. Never apologise, but make sure to tell them you love them. I normally do this right before I give them a good slap.
8. The family home: it is important for you to make it clear to your partner and children that this is YOUR house and that you just let them live in it. Privacy is your right as head of the household but no one else should expect you to grant them this privilege. Bedrooms are dormitories where you allow them to sleep. Any choices about the room are yours and yours alone. In the event a child above the age of five become insubordinate, remind them that they need to be grateful to you for generously providing warmth, food and security. Teenagers may try to exercise individual tastes in music and fashion, but these should be suppressed in case they get ideas they are anything other than an extension of you. Remember that the teenage ego is delicate and that a few well chosen words will have them scuttling back to their rooms, preferably to tidy it. I find accusing them of being gay is effective.
9. Friends: children will insist on making friends: noisy, smelly, disruptive friends. Friends should be in and out the house before you return home. Make it clear to your partner that all evidence of them should be gone by your return. Creating an environment that people outside the immediate family feel distinctly uncomfortable in is the mark of an expert. Be sure to be charming to your children’s friends. This will ensure that any stroppy comments by your child about you will be met with derision and disbelieved: handy if you’ve implemented point 7 and become over ambitious. Don’t overlook monitoring your partner’s friends either. Look for the bad points in them and emphasise these. If your partner is too blind to see them, then belittle them accordingly until they see sense.
10. Do as I say, not as I do: this is the golden rule. To your family, your word should be as law, but this does not mean that you should obey it. Your partner needs to understand that you want to know where they are every minute of the day, but that if you want to stay out for a week, they have no right to stifle you. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Likewise, if you set the family chores whilst you read the newspaper, you are simply engaged in what nature models: male lions sleep while female lions hunt. If a child or partner points out that they think you are being unfair, simply remind them “do as I say, not as I do!” While they try to figure out the logic, they can repaint the living room and you can get back to your paper. Good luck!
NB: author’s note: whilst the above is based on my own experience of emotional and physical abuse, the note of irony is entirely my own work.