Appropriate Punishment? - Blanchester,OH

Updated on September 09, 2011
L.T. asks from Lynchburg, OH
17 answers

While I was at work tonight and my hubby was home with my kids, my boys took off. They had been playing outside in the yard, but then hubby didn't see them and began calling them. He said he kept calling them and looking for them in the corn field behind our property (where they've been known to explore and hide). After an hour of trying to find them in the dark, he called me at work upset and asked me to come home, as he was calling 911. By the time I got home, they had been found by the local sheriff.

Here's the story my oldest (almost 12) gave me: He said he came in the house and told my husband the they would be taking a walk (my other son is 9). My hubby never heard this, and oldest admits Dad never acknowledged his announcement, but he went anyway. He then led my younger boy on an approx. 4.5 mile walk, half of which was on busy state routes (55 mph speed limits). It's a miracle they came home in one piece.

My oldest said I allow him to take walks like that. I never, ever have. In fact the younger son knows he can't walk further down the street than the end of the field next to my property.

We were all in tears with worry over this, including my daughter (my youngest), who was helping my hubby try and find the boys. I have never allowed them to do anything like this.

My hubby is a great father and takes great care of the kids. Should he have checked up on them more often? Maybe, but they were playing in the yard. I'm on 2 flat acres with only 1 neighbor. I don't fault him for this at all.

These are good boys that made a very bad choice. What is an appropriate punishment for something like this? Taking off like that is not OK and we've already given the lecture. Is having to ride home in the sheriff's car enough? I could use some advice.


Updated: My boys have already apologized directly to the sheriff and neither one found the ride home in his car exciting - they were terrified! They both apologized to hubby and I repeatedly. The younger one had a complete meltdown. I did not yell at all . I just explained how dangerous this was,how lucky they are to be alive, and how bad this made their dad look!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your input! I love being able to post hear and get help. I prayed about it, and actually did exactly what Peg said before I even read her post.

These are extremely well-behaved boys who made a bad choice. We all did stupid things as kids. I never make light of issues, but constantly strive to season my parenting with grace. I do not want to be beat a dead horse here - and certainly don't want that with my mistakes. I can't preach forgiveness and not extend it. I know having to see both their mom, dad and sister in tears affected them greatly.

I spoke with them again this morning and stressed the dangers of what happened. I also stressed the importance of waiting for a direct answer - not just yelling in the house about something you were doing then leaving. My hubby WAS watching them out back while doing the dishes. Everyone has to take a potty break, and again, I do not fault him for this at all. They are to stay in the yard while playing and walks will be with me for a little while.

Again, thanks!

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answers from Dallas on

Make them write an apology note to the sheriff's office for having to come out to "waste" their time trying to find them. They need to also thank them for being there to help when in need.
Then, I'd have them write sentences over and over about the importance of safety rules.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think the punishment should fit the crime, so they could be grounded to the house for the weekend.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Detroit on

I think hubby, having been worried sick, has been punished enough. Hopefully now he knows to keep a closer eye on them.

I would tell the boys that since you apparently can't trust them to stay out of trouble and use better judgement when you are not around, they will need to be grounded to the house until you feel they have earned your trust back. Could be a week, a month, could be 2 months - you decide. And no TV or computer or video games either during their "confinement". No going outside without one of you there supervising them. No going over to friends' houses. Extra chores. Maybe them losing some of their freedom will teach them to cherish it more and realize that in order for you to trust them more when they are on their own, they need to act more responsible.

EDITED TO ADD: Love Bethyskids' idea of writing a letter of apology to the police department too - they need to realize how their foolish decision affected everyone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think they learned their lesson. I would be so thankful that nothing serious happened, (they are safely at home) and hope the experience was bad enough to keep them from doing it again. Writing a letter to the sheriff is a great idea, as well as writing a letter of apology to their father and to you. I wouldn't go nuts with grounding them. Maybe a weekend at home with no electronics but grounding for a month may drive them crazy enough to WANT to do it again!!!
I'm sorry this happened. So scary! I can't imagine what your husband must have been feeling as he frantically searched for them. Oh man!! I lost my 5 yo daughter at a baseball game recently for all of 2 minutes and I panicked!! She had been with her twin just moments before and was no where to be found. I almost started screaming. Praise God I found her before I made a complete fool of myself! :) That feeling is the worst!!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm usually a punishment fits the crime kind of person. While I agree it probably scared them like crazy (and they were horrifically embarassed), I'd lay money on them doing it again or something similar in 6-12mo. A day or two of

- being confined to their rooms 24/7 except to pee (appreciate the freedom you DO have)

or the opposite

- working from dawn to bedtime &/OR having them walk EVERYWHERE. Esp in if it's a few miles to school, they will be getting up early to walk themselves there, with you following, ideally in the car. (since you have so much energy and think you can do things on your own without adults knowing or helping... here's some time that the adults won't be helping you one bit)

Why the extra? So that when the fear wears off in a few months and they think about doing it again, they can ALSO think about having to spend all weekend in their rooms, or all weekend working. You can also make a big point that whatever the punishment is is letting them off early.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Wow. So glad your boys are safe and at home now. I can imagine that you have mixed feelings about being so grateful that they are safe and being very pissed off that they made such a poor choice. As for a consequence, not sure. Where they pretty shaken up after being found or still just making some excuses? I would think that you really want them to understand and grasp the real fear of what could have gone wrong on their adventure. I would probalbly plan a good talking to them after I have had some time to calm down and think about it. I think owing up to what they have done would be good at that age and show some maturity. If they are not, then I would have to do something like take away some freedom that they have had until you feel that they can prove themselves to be tried trusted again.
Hope someone that has older ones than me can maybe give you some advice. Just really wanted to say that I was glad that things turned out ok for you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think they might have learned their lesson. Tell them next time to make sure that dad hears them, and that they are not allowed to take a walk like that again until they are much older.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The purpose of punishment is to bring to the child's attention that he did something wrong, to make him regret doing it, and to help convince him not to do it again. It sounds like your sons really got the significance of their poor choice, have seen how your whole family suffered over it, and got dragged home by The Law. I'd be surprised if they ever make that particular mistake again.

I'd talk to them in the morning, stress once more how YOU felt when they were missing for such a long time, and ask them to promise that they will never take off without clear permission again. If they make that promise, then accept it and don't punish. The issue is closed. But you may also wish to be clear about what the consequences would be if they ever use such bad judgement again.

If you're lucky, it will be a few more years before they get that adventurous again. But they probably will make other mistakes of judgement. They are human, after all, and kids, to boot.

And there's no real value in just punishing "because that's what parents do." Each situation is best handled as a unique event, or else kids may begin to feel their parents are bullies who love to punish. (I come by this conclusion by way of having a mother who felt obligated to punish to the hilt for any and all behavior she didn't approve of, no matter what we had already learned from our mistakes. She was bullying to make her children feel small, dependent and fearful. It did not serve any of us well.)

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answers from Kansas City on

oh my goodness, that is scary!!! first I just want to say that I am so glad they were found safe and sound and that my heart just aches for you. I know how scared out of my mind I would have been. As for the punishment, I think first you should allow yourself time to calm down, and think about what would be appropriate. for me, I know for sure they would be grounded for a month, no tv, no video/computer games, no going to friends houses, playing outside without supervision. Wow, I hope they know how lucky they are that they didnt get picked up by a pedophile or some creepy serial killer.....i know that sounds harsh, but it could have happened. I am really just so glad they are home safe in their beds.

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answers from Provo on

I think they got that they were wrong.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

My son pulled something similar. I found him after driving around the entire neighborhood knocking on doors asking is my son here. He was sorry and kept telling me so. I took away his tv and xbox privilages for one week. Then told him if he ever gave me a scare like that again he'd be grounded to his room for a month. He now tells me exactly were he is going and calls to let me know he got there.



answers from Columbus on

I agree with the lecturing and grounding them but I also see a problem with your husband! He sounds like my husband in the fact that he's totally oblivious with what's going on around him. You need to instruct your children when they're talking to him to make sure they get his attention AND get a response! Just saying something to him and then running out the door doesn't work as you can see especially since the oldest one even said he didn't get a response. I've been dealing with this for many years and my kids AND husband still don't get it. Good luck!



answers from New York on

They not only just walked away. The 12 year old lied to the police when he said you guys permit him to take these kinds of walks. He not only put himself in danger he also put his brother in danger too.

I would punish the 12 year old because he knows better and he lied.

They should be walking everywhere for the next week or two, not to mention a spanking from hubby isn't out of order either. I loved Dawn's and Riley's posts too. The embarrassment won't be enough because we all have faulty romantic memories. Their memories need to sting so this won't happen again.


answers from Williamsport on

Your husband was not at fault. Unless you both did not make the rule clear enough-and all kids do this eventually when we least expect. Sounds like the kids knew the rules, and decided to do it even though your husband did not answer or "hear" the request, which they knew was not OK anyway.

Dads, and PARENTS are often oblivious and busy with a thousand things. That's WHY rules need to be followed. How many times have I been doing a million things that would make me look negligent if the kids got hurt or ran into the busy street we live on? That's why we have VERY strictly taught RULES as WELL as providing locks and watching all the time. Sometimes you forget to lock a lock. Sometimes you aren't watching kid A when kid B has just fallen off the swing set etc. Your kids should KNOW that the RULE to never leave the yard is a MAJOR one punishable by maximum penalty.

If this was the first time they ever did it, and they were really that sorry, then it may be OK to let them know that if they EVER do that again, then X (something SUPER SERIOUS) will happen. You know your boys. If you think that in the end, they might calm down and have fond memories of the cop car ride etc, it wouldn't hurt to assign a serious consequence now too, to super seal the deal and make sure they don't do it again.

For their ages I might not let them "play" outside for a week, but instead do some TOUGH chores every day. Or something very dear they lose for a week PLUS some big unsavory task they need to do. Not angrily administered, just as penance for a VERY seriously wrong action that risked their safety and scared everyone to death.

If you feel it would help make sure to deter future episodes, I would probably do that, personally.

I'm glad they were OK, how scary!

***Just read Riley's post-yup, I agree! And Dawn's too.



answers from Appleton on

How close is the neighbor? I would ask the neighbor to keep an eye on the boys and simply take off (both you and hubby) on them be gone an hour to hour and a half and hopefully they will be frantically looking for you. The only way they will ever understand the fear you felt is to experience it themselves. I know this sounds harsh but if you are good enough friends with the neighbor to be on the phone with him or her and when the neighbor lets you know they are frantic return home. You could even be sitting in the neighbor's house having a cup of coffee; watching them. When you get home and they go all nuts all over you--stop them and say now you know how we felt when you took off the other night. Did you like the feeling of not knowing where we were? That is how Dad and I felt then. You also need to explain to them that they have to make sure dad hears them and answers them when they tell him something.

If you don't want to go that extreme then I would ground them for the weekend and take away any video games they have and limit their TV time. Chores are a good idea, but I hate to mix punishment and chores. I was always afraid my kids would see normal household duties as punishment and then resist doing them.



answers from Cleveland on

I think they get it but I would make sure they knew where the farthest they could go and set limits.



answers from Indianapolis on

I know you and your husband were scared to death. I did this when I was about 9. A friend and I were supposed to go to one friends house and be home by 5:30. Friend wasn't home so we took the long way home and another friend was outside playing so we played with her for what we thought was a few minutes. Well at 7:00 we both knew we were in trouble. Our parents were out looking for us. My friends sister found us and all the way home we heard how much trouble we were in. When I got home I had to turn over my father's knee. Let me say I never did that again. My friend was put on punishement for 2 weeks so she couldn't leave the house.

With your boys since it's the next day its too late to turn them over your knee. I think both should be punished equally. The 9 year old has to learn that its not always best to follow behind big brother. With living on a farm I would think there would be a lot of things they can do around there for punishment. Taking away the tv and games is another form of punisment. Good luck and I am so happy everything turned out fine.

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