So…. as some of you know or figured out via reading between the lines or just straight out reading a few of my posts, a while ago we had a problem with a certain teenaged male around the house getting kind of mouthy, and showing his general disdain for maternal authority as well as being generally disrespectful and uncooperative with his big sisters. We do expect younger siblings to cooperate with and be respectful to their older siblings around here, even when the younger siblings are teens, even when the younger siblings have a good 12 inches on their older siblings.
We required apologies and do-overs, but often it was difficult to distinguish any difference in attitude or tone in the do-overs. We required push-ups and other boot-camp style approaches, and they did have some merit and were quite effective for one particular form of trouble. Interrupting a discussion that had deteriorated into a scornful argument by giving a bored wave of my hand, accompanied by an equally bored sounding, “Drop and give me ten” worked for us, mainly, I think, because it was a redirection, and also because at heart he appreciated the excuse to buff up his arms a bit. But it wasn’t that useful in other situations.
“You know you are not allowed to be rude to your big sisters. Apologize, and after you finish helping them, you can go scrub the toilet in the master-bathroom, keeping in mind that the condition of that toilet is not so bad as the condition of the heart of a man who talks to women that way, especially when those women are your sisters.”
“Your big sister is in the right for reminding you that it’s your turn to do the dishes. You have nothing to complain about. If you had done them in anything like a timely manner, she would not need to remind you. Go do the dishes, and when you are done, mop the kitchen floor and use that time to reflect and repent.”
“‘Yes, Ma’am’ is not just a magic formula that works because you said the right words. If you say it in a tone that sound like you’d rather be spitting those words at me than obeying me, that’s also unacceptable. After you finish this school assignment, you will scrub the bathtub while thinking about how to improve the tone of your voice.”
“Somebody had to bang on your door to get you up three different times over the course of 45 minutes. That’s disrespectful of their time, and you were told I wanted to see you. When you finish breakfast, you will take the rugs from my room outside, beat them clean and think about how many times somebody had to beat on your door to get you out of bed by 9 in the morning.”
I didn’t always add the little morality lesson. Sometimes I just sighed, “Stop talking right now. Go scrub a toilet. You know why.”
Wow, did this post ever get a lot of attention! Here are some related posts you might find useful, informative, amusing, or totally annoying, depending on your bent:
How it began, this disciplinary tool, at least with my son (the older girls also were given a couple particular chores for specific infractions)
We don’t believe in giving kids responsibility without authority.
We do expect younger siblings to respect and even obey older siblings, because we think the traditional age hierarchy as practiced in Confucian based cultures, while not flawless, has some definite cultural, societal, and familial benefits. On the other hand, you should also know that of the six noonas my son is required to be polite to, five of them are between the ages of 22 and 30.
The (temporary) mouthiness and ‘disrespect’ mentioned above is mainly, IMO, a developmental stage, a stretching of the wings (and his wings are large), and the response of giving him something active to do while also giving him something to think about is a useful tool- but this single post does not define my son or my relationship with him. It is kind of silly to imagine it does. My son is sometimes a mouthy teen. But he is also this amazing, incredible ‘hyung’ to two nam-dongsaengs who love him to death. Yes, those are foreign words because they have a cultural nuance that more accurately, imo, reflects their relationship.