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Old 06-29-2012, 01:48 PM   #9
Goon Squad Leader
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Seattle
Posts: 27,063
I agree with glatt's analysis. I would add this. It is IMPOSSIBLE to avoid all incidents like this. No question this was a mistake by the kids, and at that age, the adults on duty are responsible. However, since there will be mistakes like this and larger and smaller, the proper response is to learn from this. As a parent, I'd view this as a teachable moment. By that I mean, hey, this is a problem, this is an chance for me to *show* the kid what this kind of mistake looks like so they have a better chance of recognizing it (hopefully in advance) in the future. And, as a reinforcement for this lesson, the ensuing punishment should be appropriate.

A recent case study happened here. SonofV was resisting doing some work he needed to do. In the course of urging, cajoling, leading, etc (parenting, right?) he was walking away from me to go do the work. I happened to look up as he left and saw him flip me off.

Big mistake.

I called a full stop to everything. I walked over to him and explained that because of his actions, he would be punished. I was upset, but I was clear; that kind of disrespect was unacceptable. The punishment was delivered, and he didn't like it. It was the best kind of punishment in my opinion, the kind that stings like hell, but doesn't leave a permanent mark. (I know you're all wondering... I restricted his access to all screens for a day. You may have an opinion about the suitability of such a sentence, I assure you it was a bullseye.) It allowed me to administer both justice and mercy, since I determined in the early evening that the point had been made--such disrespect was unacceptable, anger is fine, words and actions are controllable and he is responsible for that control--I commuted the rest of his sentence that night.

My point is this. SonofV made a mistake. He did it, but I was responsible for teaching him about that mistake. Perhaps if I'd raised him differently up to that day, he wouldn't have flipped me off. Perhaps. But I just don't think that youthful mistakes like that, or like the ones described in the opening post are avoidable. The important thing is to learn from them. I believe SonofV learned from his mistake. Not really because of his punishment, though that was an crucial part of the teaching. The punishment was the main aid in focusing his attention. And once I had his attention, I could tell him his lesson, no disrespect, be responsible for his words and actions, that I am doing this out of love and not anger (I know this is a cliche. It is true nonetheless and I was able to demonstrate this to his satisfaction). This was what was important.

SonofV isn't a little asshole, nor is he being raised by assholes. Raising kids is a full-time, multi-decade lifestyle choice, and it is often hard. It's usually hard. The story at the top is incomplete. It's like a trailer to a dramatic, exciting movie. You really need to see the whole thing to know if it has a happy or sad ending.
Be Just and Fear Not.
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