Discipline Ought To Start Before Three

I was horrified, but the news story (“Biden v. 3 year-old: VP Charms Senator’s Son”) was cast as a human interest piece, an ah-ha moment. There was Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States, chasing a three-year-old, trying to get back the speech notes the toddler had snagged.

In the end Vice President Biden pulled a “grandpa swap,” distracting the child with the promise of a piece of candy, then making the trade.

Where are the parents, I thought immediately.

It turns out that the child was the son of one of the senators being sworn into office. Families are apparently invited to the ceremony, and this three-year-old attended. No mention of his mom, though daddy was obviously there.

The thing that perturbs me more than watching our Vice President chasing a three-year-old is that no one told the little boy it was wrong to take the nice Vice President’s notes. That he should stop running when he was called, that he should do what his daddy told him to do and give the notes back. Oh, did I make up that last part? Did the nice senator forget to tell his son to return what did not belong to him?

Now the little boy is being called cute and precocious. Precocious, if he has a future as a pick-pocket waiting for him. Or maybe he’ll opt for white collar crime where the big money is. That’s tongue in cheek, but I do think this little guy is getting set up for a sad life.

In these formative years between one and five, this little guy is learning important lessons. From this one incident, he learns that even the really important man at his daddy’s work doesn’t have to be obeyed, that doing whatever he wants to do gets him rewarded, that no one will correct him when he does whatever he feels like in public.

Equally sad is the response of people on one site—over a hundred comments saying how “child wise” Vice President Biden is, how adorable in employing stealth grandpa tactics, how hazardous it is to negotiate with three-year-olds, how the kid and Biden are both heroes and should fight crime together (huh?)

What has become of our national sense of right and wrong? On one hand we praise little tykes and those that enable them when they do wrong, then we turn around and wonder why teens bully or why adults cheat.

Tell me, when is that little boy going to learn right from wrong? When will he discover that there are some things he should not do? Does this information come to kids naturally or will they absorb it by osmosis?

The latter, of course, is impossible since he is receiving no message that there is a right and a wrong. The only conclusion he can make, if this incident is typical as it would seem, is, There are no negative consequences no matter what I do.

I had planned on elaborating a little on what the Bible says about discipline, but I ranted too long. Perhaps this one verse says all we really need to hear anyway:

He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
– Proverbs 13:24

Published in: on January 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm  Comments (6)  
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