Saturday, December 12, 2009

Intrusive Child Development

In my current line of work, it has grown quite popular to discuss, "intrusive leadership." While the concept is not new, calling it something so catchy might be. The idea is, of course, that a leader should be actively involved with his or her subordinates, and know what is going on in their lives away from work. Is that young Marine having problems at home with his wife? Money trouble? Something else that might affect his or her performance? Have you taken the time to get involved with that young Marine?

Thinking about this idea, and even talking about childhood memories with my wife, reminded me of an incident from my childhood, and makes me wonder how intrusive many parents are these days. I also wonder how intrusive, or even concerned, most adults are as a whole.

I think I was about six years old, or maybe a year or so younger, during a particular trip with my mom to the grocery store. This particular store had a couple of the large bins of Brach's candy. It was sold in bulk, or by weight, and to a young kid, it was very odd to see large quantities of candy just laying about within easy reach. Isn't candy supposed to be in packages? Instead of asking my mom about it, I did what seemed natural at the time and just grabbed a piece.

Do you remember when you were a little kid? Do you ever think about how smart you thought you were, and how stupid you thought adults were? I don't think this is a conscious thought process, but what do you suppose I was thinking when I later tried to eat the piece of candy, and my mom asked me where I got it? Can you guess what my panicked response to that question was?

"I don't know."

Think she bought it? Not for a second. A swat to the hindquarters might have been in order, but Mom didn't spank me. Instead, she drove me back to the grocery store, and made me tell the manager of the store what I had done. There was even a policeman in the store that day! Can you imagine how terrified a young kid would be when given a "stern talking to" by that store manager? I remember that the policeman's belt was the style that actually had bullets stored in the little loops of it, and that they looked like pencil erasers.

How many managers of large grocery stores would take the time to do that today? How many parents?

This is what I would call intrusive child development. It would be so much easier to simply punish a child, spank them, take away a privilege, or do something else that would cost us less time or effort. I'm willing to bet that many store managers today would simply inform the parent that they owe X dollars, or simply refer the matter to the proper authorities. Simpler and faster, right?

Are the days of commonplace intrusive child development gone, or is it simply less noticeable? If you practice, or have practiced this type of teaching, do you feel like you are the exception, or the rule? Got any similar stories from your own past?

No comments: