Lawmakers in Spain have advanced a new draft Child Protection Bill, which stipulates that kids (18 and under) must help out with housework and be polite to their parents and teachers. Children will be legally obliged to perform chores in accordance with their age. However, the legislation doesn’t mention how the law will be enforced if children fail to comply.

In theory this law sounds good, but as a parent of a 5 year old who doesn’t make their bed you’re faced with a question – do you punish them by banning TV for a week or do you take them to court. The expression on judge (Get me out of here) is solemn as he questions why he didn’t pursue the stress-free job of sanitation man. He also questions the fair punishment for hardened criminals who stand before him – a 5 year old who didn’t make her bed and a 6 year old who didn’t take out the trash. Who should get a harsher sentence? If he gives the girl a harsher sentence will he be labeled a sexist? Will it ruin his future plans to run for Supreme Court? What is the appropriate punishment? If he sends the kids to prison sure enough their parents won’t get Mother’s Day or Father’s Day cards. He didn’t study this in law school. But, he didn’t need law school to know that the toe-tapping parents, clutching their suitcases, airline tickets and yelling, Put em in the slammer,” don’t want justice, they want a childfree vacation.

Rather than taking your kid to court when they disobey or don’t do their chores just bribe them the way self-respecting parents do. $5 dollars to have your kid do their chores is better than $500 dollars in court costs. Or, use the old but stable threat – “If you don’t clean your room, Santa Claus won’t come.” It guarantees results. I wonder if Santa’s ever had discipline issues with his elves. What does Santa say to a rebellious elf, “Hey, stop doing that to Rudolph or I won’t give you the toy you want for Christmas.” It must be hard for Santa to threaten the elves; they know better. What if Santa could take his elves to court? What a sad Christmas it would be with all the rebellious elves and the little girls and boys who didn’t do their chores in jail; the hardened criminals.

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