Friday, May 10, 2013

Good parenting

When you work at a retail store in a mall, it's easy to see the results of bad parenting all around you. Since taking a job at a bookstore, I've learned to despise most teenagers. So many of them are rude, loud, vandalizing, foul-mouthed little cretins that I find myself judging their (mostly absent) parents pretty harshly. Especially since so many of them obviously have very little supervision or guidance at home. When school lets out for the summer my coworkers and I will  spend about a third of our time dealing with the terrible behavior of packs of unsupervised kids. We all simply dread the end of the school year for that reason.

Occasionally, though, you meet a parent that's doing a good job raising their kids, and it's a refreshing change. I met a great dad last weekend that gets high marks for holding his kid accountable for his actions....and my coworkers and I have gotten a big kick out of what happened!

I was the manager on duty one afternoon, and the girl at the front register called me to come "talk to a dad" who "needed to speak with a manager". Well, of course I was dreading whatever was coming....normally parents side with their kids no matter what crazy stuff they've done, so after a heavy sigh or two I went to see what was going on. There was a man waiting for me by the registers with a thirteen or fourteen year old boy standing beside him, staring at his feet. The girl who had called me whispered a quick explanation: that the dad had caught his son with shoplifted items and had dragged the kid back to the store to confess what he had done, and wanted the manager to "give him a talking to". 

My first thought was "oh, shit"....I mean, I don't have kids myself, I have no experience with giving teens lectures for misbehaving, and I'm not exactly an intimidating authority figure, to say the least. I couldn't intimidate a damn mouse! I was wondering what I could possibly say that would have any effect on the boy. Turns out I needn't have worried. That dad had a plan all along to teach the kid a good lesson!

The man introduced himself, and his son, and then said to the boy, "Tell this nice lady what you did."

The kid looked really scared and embarrassed. He stared at the floor and in a voice barely raised above a whisper, said, "I shoplifted from you."

Then the dad completed his son's humiliation. He said, "Now show her what you stole."

Slowly, never once making eye contact with me, he opened a bag and pulled out...........two girlie magazines!!!! Hahahahaha!!!

At that point, all my nervousness vanished. I had to bite my lip not to laugh. If there is anything worse for a thirteen year old boy than having to confess to a woman that he was stealing porn...I don't know what it is! The dad stepped away so I could have a word with him; I merely said that his father was obviously disappointed in him, that he had let both of his parents down, and that shoplifters are always banned permanently from our store. (I wonder if he was ever planning to come back anyway! Ha!) The whole time, I don't think he said more than a tiny, whispered "I'm sorry" and "I understand".

As they were leaving, the dad assured me that the kid would be facing further punishment at home for stealing. I almost felt sorry for the poor kid, to be facing more consequences after such awful humiliation!

What a great dad, though.  It's nice to see parents holding their offspring accountable to others when they misbehave and/or break the law. And I'll bet this was one lesson that boy will never, ever forget!


  1. Shoplifting is simply viewed as 'fun' by so many children today. They don't think of it as crime, because it's not treated as crime. QED.

    1. I told the kid that we "could call the police" because technically we could have, but unless it's a significant $$ amount of merchandise we wouldn't, really. But I totally agree, kids think it's fun to steal and try to get away with it. Our second biggest shrink area of the store is Manga and Graphic Novels.

      The biggest shoplifted section, though? Bibles. I shit you not.

  2. Wow! Good for Dad. And, I don't envy you your dealings with the adolescent crowd. When I am waiting in the car to pick up my 12 year old son from school, I am constantly amazed by the behavior/language of the kids that walk past. They don't watch for cars--they expect the cars to watch for them--even when coming to a cross road. They don't even look for oncoming traffic, they just keep walking like little lords and ladies that everyone else is supposed to bow to. I wish you must patience for the coming summer.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes, I will need all the patience I can muster for the summer. This year, I've saved plenty of vacation days to be used between June and August! ;)

  3. Here, here! That father deserves an award in this day and age for holding his son accountable for his actions in the moment. It's astonishing to see how many children of all ages out there have almost no concept of respectful, proper, civil behaviour - even when I was a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was often repulsed and worried by the way many of my peers acted (and had zero qualms with losing popularity points by not acting like them for one second), and things were - by and large - still a lot tamer back then.

    I don't have kids myself yet, but if I ever do, you better believe I'll be parenting like that father!!!

    ♥ Jessica