I’ve been writing about how I’m trying to let natural consequences rule the day when it comes to discipline around these parts. In some ways it’s working; in others, not so much.
As I write this Hope is about to miss the bus again and make her way down to the bus stop. Of this three-day school week, she’s clocking two late days. It’s time for me to look and see if she will eventually get detention for her tardiness; maybe that will make a difference. I don’t know.
I am still struggling with letting it go and not intervening too much. The instinct is to protect one’s kid from consequences. You don’t want them to suffer or hurt, but they also need to understand that life requires some discipline.
I think my strengths are better applied to responding to clear rule breaking. Recently Hope broke a pretty significant house rule. The funny thing is I wouldn’t have known about it if she didn’t insist on snitching on herself. Seriously, she is a leaky bucket when it comes to keeping a secret.
Anyhoo, I had to sit down after our initial calm confrontation and think about what to do. Over time I’ve come up with a bunch of questions that I ask myself as I think through discipline.
Ok, so, there is a broken rule.
Does this really require a response?
Am I angry?
Is there any humor in this situation?
Do I understand why she did it?
Is this a trauma thing?
Is this a dumb teen thing?
Is this an adoption thing?
Will certain kinds of discipline trigger more undesirable behaviors?
If yes, is it really worth it?
Is safety a concern?
Can I have a glass of wine?
How can I end this unpleasant experience with a relaxing glass of vino?
I’ve created a Venn diagram of my decision tree.
I try to be consistent, but I also try to be sure to avoid triggers. I also need to make sure that we stay connected throughout the experience; I don’t want to push her away.
I often think about how when I was punished as a kid I was sent to my room or grounded. I was restricted. With Hope…I can’t do that. I need to find ways of applying a consequence while still drawing her close to me to continue to foster attachment.
It’s confusing, especially when I am annoyed. I don’t want to be close when I’m pissy.
I’ve had to learn how to let things go and let them go quickly. That’s not my nature, but I have to for Hope’s sake.
The evening of our leaky bucket conversation, I sat her down and told her what she was going to have to do because she broke the rules.
Hope was angry. She raised her voice. I kept mine even. I explained my reasoning.
And then I dropped it.
I’d like to think I got it right, because she proceeded to spend the next two hours hanging out with me, being goofy. We laughed. We fixed dinner.
I finally had to send her off to finish her homework.
This isn’t how I was disciplined. I don’t remember wanting to hang out after getting a consequence. I don’t think my parents did anything wrong. But this is super different than what I understood it to be. It feels foreign, but not bad.
Hey, I did get my glass of wine at the end of the evening!