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“No!” means “no” because the adults told me so

When I was a kid, both my parents knew very well when to say “no” to me. If I wanted a toy that was too expensive, they would say no. When I misbehaved and still wanted some sort of “treat,” they would say no. I’d do my best to charm them into saying “yes,” but they held fast to their decisions. Later in life, mom told me that she and my dad had agreed to be “tough” with me when it came to my behavior. No really did mean “no.”

Temper tantrums never really worked.

My parents were not the only ones who guided me like that. Teachers in school were the same way. I remember plenty of times when I tried to get away with something and couldn’t. Homework was due on time, and the grading of assignments was consistent. Any kind of misbehavior had consequences. As a result of my parents’ guidance and the discipline from them and my teachers, I’ve learned to set limits on myself when it comes to my interactions with people.

Sure, I still have some hiccups and say things without thinking or do things without running it by the prefrontal cortex. Those things are far and few in between nowadays, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some days I wonder how I made it through life before having a “fully cooked” brain, and the answer is my parents and teachers and other adults who took it upon themselves to set limits for me.

I’m writing this today because I came across this video on YouTube:

(Go ahead and watch it. It’s a little under five minutes long.)

The video tells the story of Tony Farmer. His story is actually pretty sad:

“Garfield Heights High School basketball star Tony Farmer is going to jail.

Farmer, sentenced to three years in prison this afternoon by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Pamela for the kidnapping and assault of his ex-girlfriend.

Farmer, 18, turned to his attorney after the sentence was announced, collapsed backwards into the arms of a sheriff”s deputy and sank to the floor….

Farmer was indicted by a grand jury on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault and robbery stemming from an altercation last April with his ex-girlfriend, Andrea Lane, in the lobby and parking lot of her apartment complex in Bedford Heights.

Much of the incident was caught on videotape inside the apartment building. Bhasker said that at one point, outside the building, Farmer dragged Lane by her hair.

Farmer was later charged with intimidation, as well, after he sent threatening phone and text messages to Lane.”

According to the media reports and court records, Tony beat up his girlfriend in quite a horrible and terrifying fashion. Although she said “no” to him, he kept at it. It’s all in the second part of the video, and more on the assault is here, and it’s a bit disturbing to watch because Tony is a giant compared to the young lady. I don’t know how Tony was raised and whether that upbringing had any bearing on his behavior. However, I can tell you that parental and authority influence has a great deal to do with how a young man or a young woman will behave as they grow up. Tony’s case makes me wonder how his basketball coach and peers behaved as well. Again, I can’t speculate.

Maybe it’s surveillance bias — or the fact that I’m getting older — but I keep seeing these types of situations more and more, and not just in the media. I see it in the young people who get on the metro and jump the pay gates, talk back to the police officers who reprimand them, and intimidate the people around them on the train. (Only once did a kid try to intimidate me. He backed off when I stood up and towered over him in three dimensions.) I also see it when I go play soccer or watch a game of pick-up or high school soccer. The kids get so angry when a ref makes a call against them. They want to solve everything with a punch or with aggression. And I know I’m definitely older because I don’t play their game.

And it’s because my parents didn’t play my game that I don’t play that game… And I hope not to play that game with The Child™.

[do action=”credit”]Photo credit: mdanys / Foter / CC BY[/do]

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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
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1 reply

  1. One ponders the impact of “The Me Generation” rearing their children, as well as the acceptance of poor behavior of professional sports and other celebrities.
    I still remember hearing horror stories about Allen Iverson and his accompanying thugs running amok in West Philadelphia, something largely ignored by the press and police, but left residents in fear for their own safety.
    Rearing has quite a bit to do with how people behave as adults, however, reinforcement of limits remains necessary for civilized behavior. As a society, we tend to ignore aberrant behavior, even criminal behavior in people who are celebrities. It seems that we only finally react when the behavior becomes felonious in nature, when it’s far too late to correct the issues presented and are then stuck with punishing the results of our cultural permissiveness with celebrities.


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