How far would you go to teach your child a lesson?
The recent riots in the UK led to the revelation that a mother, on seeing her daughter on CCTV footage involved in some of the rioting and looting, marched her daughter down to the local police station to be dealt with by the law. There is no doubt this girl needed to be taught a lesson and needed to be made accountable for her actions. The destruction was opportunistic and showed a complete lack of respect for others and the businesses they had worked hard to build, some of which were family owned, past on from generations. Do we applaud this woman who obviously felt that this was the only option she felt available to her at the time? Maybe for her this was a last resort and a cry for help for a daughter she could no longer control. Or do we wonder what had gone on previously in that child’s upbringing that had led this child to believe that this was a satisfactory way for her to spend her day?
I thought about this with regard to my own children, and asked myself (and my husband) if we would ever go to those lengths to teach our children a lesson. To clarify here, I am fairly confident my children would not participate in such practises as these, and this is an example in the extreme, but just how far would we go if our child stepped out of line and we felt we needed to hand over the reins to another authority?
Obviously with each different situation comes different circumstances and consequences. There is certainly the fear of a police record ruining future prospects when you are talking about handing in to the police. But this may be a much easier burden to bear if a child is heading down a destructive path where the consequences could be far worse.
But what about other situations?
Would you let a teacher know if you found the answers to an exam written on your child’s arm later that night?
Do you make them return a lolly that invariably turned up in their pocket after a visit to the supermarket? Obviously if you were still in the vicinity of the shop I’m sure you would, but if it was later that night and the freddo frog had already been devoured?
Would you say anything to the parent of a bullied child if you discovered it was your child involved in the name calling or bullying or would you try and deal with your child behind closed doors?
Would you deal with these instances yourself, confident that you have the ability to make them see the error of their ways?
Our children are not born perfect and not born knowing all the rules. Sometimes these mishaps help to provide us with a teachable opportunity to learn right from wrong.
But are there times when somebody else needs to be the ones to pull our children into line?