Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday-You're Grounded!

I'm in a bit of a pickle.  What started as a simple disagreement analyzing the meaning of the phrase "Please turn off the TV now," escalated into a full blown conflict with Jack.  At one point, he left the house and climbed the maple tree in our front yard and I calmly talked him down using my innate intuitive senses and experience with children. 

Just kidding.  I stood down by the trunk with my neck craned back, looking at the tips of his shoes peeking through the leaves and yelled irrational things like, "If you don't come down right now you are grounded for four days!" 

Has this ever happened to you?  In the heat of the moment, you open your mouth and offer a completely unrealistic consequence?  Now what?

The pattern in our house is to backpedal.  Usually I go to Jack and tell him I'm sorry and that after a glass of wine and a good night's sleep I have decided that the punishment does not fit the crime.  Then, we all hug and say sorry and there ends up being no consequence at all. 

Now I know that grounding Jack for four days is not effective parenting.  But neither is giving him a consequence and then not following through on the consequence.  So that is my pickle.

I think part of the reason this occurs is that Jack is an amazing kid in so many ways.  His good behavior, kind heart and happy disposition is the norm, so we end up surprised and unprepared for moments of occasional misbehavior.  Today is his 12th birthday and we are so proud of him. 

I know that with the teenage years approaching, this will not be the last Mother-Son conflict.  I think we'll need to sit down when we're both calm to talk about realistic expectations and consequences together.  And then we'll need to be consistent and fair in following through.  Someday soon, we'll have this talk.

But today, I'm going to eat my pickle.  Today I will tell Jack that the punishment was too harsh, and ask him to think of a different, more appropriate consequence.  'Cause what mom wants her son to remember the year he was grounded on his birthday?

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