The macho parent. The tough guy. The one who believes that they have answered a call for special parents, a stirring slogan: "We're looking for a few good men". These parents, if they are women --- and often they are --- believe that they have to be on constant alert against any sign of feminine weakness in themselves. Parenting is a manly job; being womanly just gets in the way.
OK, I might be exaggerating...if only a little...but I'm sure you recognize this type of parent. The most extreme of the bunch, the men especially, love to brag about how tough their parents were. They recount, with laughter, the whippings, being sent to bed without supper, being tied to trees, being spanked for "whatever you did that I didn't catch you doing", and more. They all claim to have been holy terrors, and to be eternally grateful for their parents who were tough enough for the job of raising them and bringing them into line.
"Yup, I needed to be spanked with that two by four. Only thing that ever could have put some sense in my head."
"One time, when I was a teenager, I stayed out too late and then I got in a big fight with my dad when I came roaring in after midnight. Finally he'd had enough of my lip, and he just hauled off and slugged me. Knocked me to the ground. Best thing he ever did. I tell you, that's what kids nowadays need."
Those of us who managed to obey our parents without being smacked around by lumber cannot help but wonder why, if this method is supposedly so effective, it didn't seem to work on the young terrorist. After all, he is full of stories of the most rebellious escapades that, supposedly, explain why this parenting method was necessary. At the same time, this person --- after just telling us how he chased his siblings around the kitchen with sharp knives, how he purposefully shot his brother with his BB gun, and how he destroyed his mother's garden by driving his car across it --- will claim with a straight face, "I think kids would be a lot nicer and more respectful today if they just got half the lickings I did."
Not all macho parents are like that. Some were raised by far more reasonable parents. But, for various reasons, these parents have come to believe that parenting requires almost a "don't smile before they are fully trained" attitude. "We are no-nonsense parents," one mother told me. It was obvious that she was also a no-humor parent.
These parents are always afraid of "where things might lead". You don't dare cuddle a baby too much or, when that baby is 16 years old, you'll never get him off your lap. If you don't wean the baby by six months at the latest, he'll still be demanding to nurse when he's in kindergarten. If you let the baby in your bed once, he will take over and you'll end up fighting to the death over who has to sleep on the bottom bunk. If you let a toddler run and giggle, he'll never stop --- and he will get kicked out of school because of all his constant running and giggling. If you let your preschooler decide what color t-shirt to wear, next he'll turn into a teenager who demands to wear all the latest fashions. If you ever let the child stay up past his bedtime, even once, the next thing you know, he'll be trying to stay up all night. If you don't spank him, hard, the first time he ever shoots you a disrespectful look, he'll never again obey you. If you let him ride his tricycle as fast as he wants on the driveway, he'll grow up to be a speed demon who crashes the family car. If you don't potty-train him soon after his first birthday, he'll end up as a teenage juvenile delinquent in diapers. If you let him splash in the bathtub, he'll turn into a destructive vandal. If you let him hold a doll, he'll turn into a homosexual child molester. If you ever stand him in the corner, instead of spanking him, he'll end up deliberately committing crimes just so he can go to jail.
These parents are always "nipping things in the bud". Because of this constant state of suspicious hyper-vigilance, they see problems where none exist. They are convinced that their newborns arrive with one purpose only: to overthrow the parents as quickly as possible. These parents, however, are not going to be conquered; they are on to the wicked newborn's nefarious schemes. The battle lines are drawn and these parents will never, ever retreat or admit defeat. They are tough parents, and they are up to the daunting task ahead of them. They see themselves as having to fulfill several roles:
- drill sergeant
- prison guard
- private investigator
- special forces soldier behind enemy lines, battling terrorists and guerrillas
[First two sentences edited for clarity]