Thursday, August 19, 2010

Benevolent Dictatorship

I now have a new favorite episode of South Park. Season 10 Episode 7 "Tsst".

Like Jon Stewart on politics, sometimes only through comedy can truth be told well. This episode gets at the core problem with much of American parenting.

I have been teaching for 20 years, and I have seen it all. There are a few exceptions here and there, but most kids are a direct product of their parenting .... and many American parents don't parent.

When Kathryn was on the way, I became particularly interested in the practices of successful parents. I remember during parent teacher conferences, I would often ask particular parents what was the key to their success. The responses always followed a theme that was summed up by one mom:

"Our home is not a democracy... it is a benevolent dictatorship."

That was one of two pieces of advice that became the rudder by which my wife and I directed our parenting.

But back to the episode.....

In this episode, various super nannies try to get the incorrigible Cartman under control. All fail.... mostly because they keep trying to reason with Cartman or appeal to his better nature.... HA!

Finally, they bring in a world famous dog trainer... and Cartman becomes a new boy. However, it doesn't last because his mother simply cannot follow through.

I think every parent with a little one on the way should watch this episode.

I remember years ago we had some friends over. They had children who could be most generously described as "a handful". As it got late, it was time for my kids to get ready for bed. I called them into the family room to say goodnight to our guests, then to go upstairs, brush teeth, and head to bed. My kids gave hugs all around, said goodnight, then went upstairs.

I saw nothing abnormal about this, but our guests' eyes were as wide as saucers. Once my children had gone upstairs, the husband stammered out, "How??.... How did you do that???"

Some of the credit goes back to Mrs. Schweighoffer - Our home is a benevolent dictatorship. :)

A great scene from the episode.... "I am not being aggressive, I am being dominant."

As with all South Park, this scene is crass; watch at your discretion. For the full effect, I suggest the whole episode which is linked at the end of the clip.


Anonymous said...

I love the episode, well I love South Park. It's likely the most thought provoking cartoon I have ever seen.

Logan said...

Just watched the episode-hysterical! South Park is such an awesome show because it is a lot more sophisticated in its humor-especially political, religious and sociological satire-than most people realize.

And great points all around-I was raised in a "benevolent dictatorship" and am thankful every day for it!

Steve H. said...

Brilliant...absolutely brilliant!

Dave Sopko said...

I use this concept with my daughter when she tries to pull a little to much attitude, and I will with my son as he grows into the appropriate age...

When we went to Hannah's first Comic Convention this year, she needed to get around a group of people clogging the aisle. She looked up and said "excuse me please." The woman looked at her and then at me and complimented her manners, and she had a dead seriously shocked look on her face.

I thought it was what you were supposed to do...teach your children to be polite and respectful. I guess it's not as prevalent as I would hope it is.

Mae said...

I was raised by a "benevolent dictator." Only in the last few years have I come to realize that she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She did everything "for my own good" including beating me with the flat side of a butcher knife and with an axe handle. I was not allowed to "sass" during those beatings or any other time. The verbal abuse was the worst,though. I know she loves me and would give her life for me but she never allowed me to be a child, or to be me - it was always about HER. I'm also just realizing the many ways in which my whole life has been affected by this upbringing. Of course children need structure and positive discipline, and I'm sure you're a benevolent parent. At the same time, the phrase "benevolent dictator" gives me chills...have you ever read Alice Miller's "For Your Own Good, The Roots of Violence"? So many children suffer at the hands of the very people who they look to for love, care and safety.

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