|I have tried, since their births almost, to instill The Golden Rule into my children’s minds. Do to others what you want them to do to you has been a VERY difficult concept, apparently- well for 2 of them anyway. The other one thinks of others over himself nearly to a fault- but that is a whole other blog entry. . . .
Yesterday after school there was a brawl in our barn. A nasty enough one that the dog was trying to alert the media, police, or maybe just me- I’m not sure. . . . . It started as most arguments do- someone said something that someone else made fun of that upset the other one and turned into a physical altercation. Anyway, I went down to figure out what happened. One of them refused to speak to me and took off to hide. The other one didn’t take off but went ballistic with his yelling and so I sent him to walk it off with instructions to not return until he calmed down. (Remember we live on a farm- there is tons of room for walking without ever leaving our property- fairly safe) Taking off is one of those things that will set my personal “patience cannon” off but I’ve been trying to let the kids cool off and letting them take off works for that. It also lets me think through my strategy for handling the situation.
When they set off for their cooling off period, neither were wearing jackets and it was cooling down outside. Also, neither of them had eaten supper yet. So, I knew they would be back.
So, here’s how it went down. I let them return and do their own thing for a while and then I spoke to each of them individually and in private. I said to them, ” I need you to do me a favor. I need you to pretend that you are the parent. As the parent you need to come up with consequences for your brother’s behavior. Write down what you think would be a reasonable consequence for what he did and get it back to me as soon as possible.” One of them went and did this immediately. The other one fussed and stewed and didn’t know what to do so I asked his dad to help him with the assignment (dad was in on what I had planned). So, shortly after supper I had both lists. Their dad and I questioned them both and asked things like, “Are you sure this is a reasonable consequence for what your brother did wrong?”, “Keeping in mind the Golden Rule, does your punishment seem too harsh or too weak?”. We insisted that they look over what they wrote down and make sure it was what they thought was the best punishment (I try not to use the word punishment but for this it seemed a good way to help them do the assignment). Then their dad and I sat them down, talked with them a bit about their behavior, the assignment, and that they were not to speak or leave the room as I read them aloud. We read both lists of consequences and then I asked them what one big rule had I been trying to teach them. They knew I was referring to the Golden Rule! (so far so good!) Then I said, “In the spirit of that rule and in order to help you understand what it means, your consequences for fighting in the barn are the ones that you wrote yourself.”
Wait for it, folks! Wait for it!!!!!!!!
They both burst out laughing and comments of being tricked filled the living room. . . . . ..
Wait for it, folks! Wait for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then they were reminded that I was being serious. . . . . . . .
Let’s just say it was a pretty rough evening for one of them. One kid suggested a consequence of one thing and the other suggested a list of 5 consequences (all of which were excellent). The one consequence kid took it rather well and then went about his business. The other one was pretty upset to say the least. He turned it into a very ugly night of “life is about the choices you make”. But his bad choices and his dad and I insisting that he correct each and every one worked into some excellent life lessons.
Life lessons like:
Remember, you are not in this parenting battle alone! We can support each other!!!
God is good- all the time. . . .