February 14, 2008,
J. asks from Provo, UT on February 12, 2008
Advice: Punishment That Fits the Crime?
My oldest son will be 16 in May. Just this year he has realized that no one can MAKE HIM do anything. My husband and I keep to punishments that fit, if he doesn’t do what he should than there are natural consequences. He doesn't do his laundry, he doesn't have clean cloths, he doesn't do his chores he doesn't get money, his grades are not good he doesn’t get “screen time” etc. But recently he is skipping class. So a natural consequence, if you don't get an education than you labor in work. So I sent him off to a laboring job with his dad for ever one class missed. He is not getting money for this, he will have to make up for the school work missed and make up the “unexcused” absence. Is this to much? I know the laws of children required to attend school but if the #)$(*#$ is not going than why not be proactive in showing him what direction he is taking his life?
So What Happened?™
So I want to give an update because I myself am shocked by how well this worked :) It has been nearly one month and he has not missed one class. He has also nearly done all the make up from missing the classes (just 3 more to go). He has had to pay for the make up classes (11 that is a lot of money). I think the reason it worked is I really wasn't bluffing though after I though about it more (not to his knoledge) I realized what the possible negitive out come could be. He chose the possitive and that I am very proud of. I aprecate the comments that everyone gave. Many of them I took and plan to use later on. We have two more to get through the teen years and every good word helps....man does it help to know your not the only one and what a wealth of help you all are to me.
M.C. answers from Albany on February 14, 2008
too many responses to read, but I think that you are on the right track. I wonder if volunteering in a shelter or other down and out place may make an impact also. Good luck.
L.V. answers from Salt Lake City on February 13, 2008
Wow Bravo! I hope that when my children get to be teenagers I can stick to my guns like that. I say keep up the good work there aren't enough parents out there that actually parent their teenagers. They are to afraid they will offend them and not be their friend anymore.
Way to go!
M.B. answers from Denver on February 13, 2008
I think this is a great idea!!! My parents would ground me form things that had nothing to do with what i did so I just got mad. I am totally aginst home schooling but if he keeps skipping class you could home school him so there would be no ditching. Then you could make him have a job on top of that. At 16 there is no need for allowance he needs to get his own job.
J.S. answers from Salt Lake City on February 12, 2008
Good for you, Isn't it fun to deal with kids who realize you really cant MAKE them do anything? They can even go to school, but you cant make them pay attention. The nice thing is you can tell him what YOU are and are not willing to do. He cant Make you do anything either.
You sound a lot like me. I make my son do his own laundry, buy his own school clothes, pay his own way for fun events (movies, bowling) I also make him pay for poor decisions (not brushing his teeth, putting a hole in the wall) So yes, finding appropriated consequences is important to me too.
I think the consequence you picked is very appropriate, I'm a love and logic mom, so I believe in giving lots of empathy first, followed by a consequence (or delayed consequence) "Aww sweetie, thats a bummer you skipped school, we're going to miss you this summer while your working and we go on vacation" I love that I don’t have to tell my son what he should or should have learned, or what he did wrong, he's smart, I let him figure it out. I get to be the good guy and just love him. I think as long as parents dont add insult to injury and don’t try to make the kid bleed. My son does not like to let me know that a consequence hurts him, he gets an attitude "I don’t care" I think many parents want to see there kids feel remorseful, but I dont worry about that, I dont want my friends making me feel bad for my poor decisions, so I just say "Good, then we're both happy" give him a pat on the back, then say "Good Job" along the way and when he's done.
The truth is, he wont be a failure for the rest of his life if he doesnt graduate, I know thats a hard thing to watch a child do. But it is his natural consequence if he has to go to night school and get a GED or Diploma after graduation. There are many people who make it quite well with delayed education. Heck, I'm 36 and finally going to college. And my decision to not go to college out of high school really doesnt affect my parents unless they decide to own my actions and decisions.
You can always tell him "I'll love you no matter how many years it takes you to graduate" just to ensure that his motivation to skip school isn't because he knows it hurts you. Some kids do that, they like to hurt them selves because they believe it hurts there parents more. When the focus is taken off of the parent’s reaction, it goes onto them selves.
Anyway, I'm babbling, but I just wanted to say I think what your doing is awesome. He'll be fine (I believe)
I'm the type of mom where I'd also charge for gas to drive him to work, have him make up for the time I take out of my daily routine to drive him somewhere. I told our niece that when she came and lived with us, she was doing community service at the high school and decided to tell the janitor to F* off, and quit, she told me the story, I wowed her story, then in the middle of her laughing about it, she says "So can you take me around town so I can get another job?" I said "Sure! I'd be happy to, I do homework after work, dinner at 5, clean up dinner, do my chores, figure my bills, take the kid to practice at 7, (mapped out my day) then I said "So anything you can think of doing to free up my time, then I can take you. OH and I'll only charge you 2 dollars for a day for gas to run you around" All the sudden her decision to flip the janitor off and tell him off wasnt such a good decision anymore, she realized that it wasnt my problem to fix, but I wasnt the B*tch in the situation either, I was the good guy willing to help, and I really was willing to help, just not willing to do it for her, I dont believe in treating kids like an honered guest.
GL and I cant wait to see how things go for you, I hope you tell us how it goes.
G.D. answers from Boise on February 13, 2008
I went through this too. My solution~ I went to classes with my daughter. Simple explanation I gave her was this: If you aren't able to make it to class I will be there to help guide you to make better choices. Or you can chose on your own to make the better choice. This way she was empowered to make the right choice and she only had to options to choose from. :) Good luck!
M.M. answers from Great Falls on February 13, 2008
J., I am with you on it,
but please do remember not to confront him as you parents are on one side of the battlefield
and he is on another one,
It is better to keep peace and love CONSTANT, even when he is at wrong. How to do it? Easy: try not to get emotional, nd condemn ar read him 'lectures' about how he should be, but only say something like: sorry dear son, I see you try your best, but this time you missed the class, so you know the rule is that you make it up; and sorry dear son, I see all your hard effort, but you accidentally forgot to do laundry, so now you don't have any clean shirts: how does it make to put on the old one, so that all the girls in class run away into another corner because of this smell... just next time think what you gain and what you miss, whenever it comes to the chores. teach him to think one step ahead, and always remain tht friendly reminder to him, not his 'enemy' who punishes him (remember he's a teenager, he wants to be very independent :) ! ). I think you are so absolutely right in all what you do. Just watch that the environment stays friendly in the family, and he always feels that you are there to SUPPORT, not to punish. This is the only note I'd like to send out to you. Good luck, J., and take care!
M.A. answers from Colorado Springs on February 13, 2008
My son who is fifteen was skipping his third hr class. After emailing his teacher to make sure it was okay, I showed up at his school one day to escort him to class. His teacher allowed me sit in the class with him and explain to the class why I was there. I told his friends that he was having trouble getting to class on his own so his mommy had to come help him. He then had to do chores at home to help defray the cost of me having to take a day off of work. He did not ever think that I would do that and I told him I would do it again in a heartbeat because his education is very important to me. He hasn't skipped again.
C.L. answers from Casper on February 13, 2008
Finally a SMART mom!!! I am surrounded by mothers who allow their kids to throw their education away. I think that you are doing the right thing. As mothers we sometimes have to fight to keep our kids on the right path. Good luck!
M.Y. answers from Denver on February 13, 2008
I think it's great that the punishment fits the crime. Is he having to do this during school? The only hesitation I have is that I know a man who's parents did this to him, and he decided it was the way to go, dropped out of school and now works a great job (he's higher up) in construction. I know this is not the norm, and likely won't happen for you, but it's just a thought. Another mom I know started attending school with her son until he shaped up. The humiliation was enough, and it didn't take long for him to decide he would rather attend on his own. Is this a possibility for you for a short time? I would still make him work hard labor after school and on weekends until his "debt" is paid. I don't think you're being hard on him at all. Hope some of this helps! I hope you can steer his obstinance in the right direction!
T.B. answers from Boise on February 13, 2008
OK first off I don't have teenagers. But I do have a 4 yr old a 3 yr old and a 1 almost 2 yr old. Honestly I think you are doing the right thing. There is a saying that goes " You can't negotiate with terrorists, teenagers or two year olds" I have so far found this to be true. At least with the two year olds. As for the required attendance of school, your'e right if he isn't even going anyways why not put him to work. Eventually he will get the idea. And since you are making him do his schoolwork anyways he is not missing his education. You might want to try and figure out why he is acting out this way though. Teens don't like to talk about what's going on but maybe you can figure it out by talking with teachers or reading his texts and emails. Remember until they turn 18 their privacy is something you give them. Find out how much time he might be spending on the net. How much time is he spending with friends. maybe these are being bad influences. Whatever you do make sure you tell him that you love him and always will. (Even if he drives you up a batty wall) Remember when you where a teen, did you or your husband go through the same things? If so why? OK well I hope this helps.
M.B. answers from Missoula on February 13, 2008
i feel for you in your situation.
have you tried going to class with him? does he get good grades?
sometimes the i have used taking his most prized item away...
do both of you agree before the punishment is put out?
or is he looking for attention from his father?
as parents we all want the best for each of our kids and when things dont work out we begin to doubt if what we are doing is right. hang in there and keep asking others.