By Hollis Wormsby, Jr.
I have had German Shepherds for most of my adult life and have taken pride in the way I trained and raised them. The dogs that I trained well were able to have better lives because I could take them places and let them do things that I could not do with a poorly trained dog. In fact, I am being reminded now because I have a one-year old Shepherd that I completely neglected to train. He is the cutest little thing, but crazy as a loon. He has been pretty much cramped in one room in my home for the year that I have had him, and compared to the time I usually invest in my dogs I just did not make the investment in him. His favorite past time is a brisk game of “Chase my tail” and when he goes into a chase my tail fit, he does not respond to voice commands at all. Because he has been locked in that one room for most of his life, he is hyper as hell, and super destructive. He has decimated the furniture in the room I keep him in and that is part of the reason he is limited to that one room, because if I turned him loose in the house he would quickly destroy all of the furniture in the house. He also cannot be walked without being on a chain, again because I did not take the time to teach him and spend the hours getting him acclimated to this simple task.
My young dog’s quality of life is going to be reduced by the things I failed to teach him as a puppy. He will be a dog with a lesser quality of life, simply because he was not adequately trained and it was my duty as his owner and guide to make sure that he learned certain lessons
The same can be said for our role with our children. There are certain lessons, especially life lessons that we teach our children by the rules we set in our homes. When most of us were children we had assigned chores that had to be done on some schedule and done right. If somebody had to tell us to do these chores, or if we did not do them right, then in the vernacular of the day, somebody probably beat your a–. So, at a young age we learned that there were chores we were responsible for, and that not doing those chores came with a consequence. As adults because learned this as children, when we went to our jobs, we knew from our upbringing that if something was supposed to be done on Saturday morning, it better be done on Saturday morning and done right. So, on our early jobs no one had to teach us that. Well what if no one had made us do chores on a schedule and what if there had been no consequence? Then in many cases we would have suffered consequences on our early jobs, because employers are not going to pay you to tell them you forgot to do your job.
In the world I work in, there is rigid structure and organization, and if you are going to be successful you have to have the ability to follow direction and function within an organization. Well you should learn this as part of your family as well. In my youth, we had a nine o’clock pm bedtime and during the week a six in the morning get up time. No exception. Both of my parents worked so we were expected to get up, clean our rooms, get dressed, get breakfast while leaving the kitchen clean and be ready to catch the bus by a certain time. We did it everyday because we had no choice, but it also established the discipline for us to lead our adult lives that way as well.
Just like with my crazy puppy, when we fail to provide basic guidance and discipline to our children we lessen their opportunities in life. If your child can’t remember to empty the garbage can at home, how do you think he is going to remember his or her responsibilities as a new employee? If you have not taught your child how to take care of a home and a yard, who is going to want to live with them in disarray? Setting standards and expectations for our children is not a choice, it is job number one for us as parents. Or at least that’s the way I see it.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)