Happy New Year!!
We all start off the new year trying to be better versions of ourselves. I know most of us parents want our kids to be better or have it better than WE did as kids. I often tell my son that giving him advice is liking having a time machine and going back in time to tell my younger self the things I would have done differently. One of the hardest core values to instil in my teenager is truth and honesty. Somewhere down the line, my innocent sweet little son picked up the bad habit of lying.
I went over the cat and mouse game of making sure homework is done every night but I have caught him lying about other inconsequential things like eating the lunch he brought to school. After 4 days of this consistent back and forth I lost my cool. I made him call his Mom (we are not on speaking terms) and ask if he could spend an extra couple of days with her so we could have a break. I also gave him the ultimatum of apologizing to myself and my fiancee with a written letter or don’t come back.
The decision killed me. It ate me up inside and I hurt all weekend. I sent a lengthy email to family members (both sides – his mom’s and mine) explaining his behaviour as well as my reaction. I had lengthy discussions with my mom, my soon to be mother in-law, my partner, my best friends (his “uncles”) and everyone I knew who had an interest in my relationship with my son. My mom had the best advice, “What I did with you didn’t work, so don’t do what I did.” Which is the yelling and screaming and losing her cool. I realized that regardless of my actions – I had exhausted my options – I was acting exactly like my mother, punishing my son the way she punished me. My partners mom also agreed with my mom saying “the big guy” needs a friend right now and that there must be something going on his head that is bigger than everything else. My mom also reminded me of how much counselling helped a teenaged me find some solace with my mom when things were rocky. Another key point that was brought up was – don’t create punishments or ultimatums that are unachievable – it’s like painting yourself into the corner. Writing is not his strongest suit so why would I ask him to write a letter?
After the talks I had with my support crew I began to feel better. And recharged. I made sure my son came home on Monday, apology letter or not to discuss our scenario. He came home promptly and wanted to settle into our usual routine until I told him, “take your coat off, settle in and come have a chat. We obviously need to talk about the elephant in the room before anything else.” I outlined a couple of key points for him so he knew what was at stake.
1. Your grounded. That means if your not doing your homework (he does his homework in full view so I can keep him focused), your chores or going to the bathroom your stuck in your room for 2 weeks.
2. Your chores for two weeks are simple, Dishes stay clean as does your room. If you see some dishes when you come home – do them. Eat breakfast, wash your bowl right after. If I see any dishes ever – I’m calling you out.
3.For every day you don’t get EVERY one of your teacher’s signature’s in your agenda, or leave dishes undone, I get to add a day to the grounding.
4. No unsupervised internet. (Normally there would be a “no internet” rule but seeing as he will be helping me with the blog I thought this rule would be more effective.)
5. If he gets everything done like he is supposed to, I could be inspired to knock a day or two off of his sentence for good behaviour.
I also mentioned to him that it was wrong of me to send him to his mom’s house as a punishment. I don’t think I sent him away as a punishment but it sure seemed that way. I apologized to my son. I know a lot of parents refuse to admit that they are wrong to their children but I strongly disagree with that tactic. Show humility and respect to your child if you expect that back from them. Lead by example – not a dictatorship. It will ultimately show your child that you are honest with yourself and it will encourage them to be humble and admit when they are wrong.
I wanted to leave you with a funny quote that I have been using with my son, but I haven’t found a decent quality clip on the internets. It’s a Jane Lynch quote from the movie Role Models. She tells Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott that she is BS proof and you can’t BS the BS’er.
I use it in our regular game of Cat and Mouse when I catch my son fibbing about homework or some other half truth. By using a funny movie quote, it helps to diffuse a situation turning anger and animosity into laughter. Once your children realize that there is no harsh or unpleasant consequence to telling you an unpleasant truth (Homework not done, forgot clothes at school/friends house etc.) they will be more encouraged to tell the truth. And rather than get mad at them, find out why they did not do their homework and help them remedy the situation.
Good luck with your own child handling/disciplining/supporting skills. As always, I love feedback, comments and advice so please, leave a comment or reply or shoot me an email if your shy.
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