Yesterday I wrote a post explaining how I didn’t let Number 3 go to a birthday party after he, for absolutely no reason, pushed his three-year-old sister who consequently fell into a wooden table and slammed her head onto the corner of it.
I went on to explain how once I told him he wasn’t going to the party any more, his behavior immediately changed, and how, about an hour before the party was supposed to start, he asked if he could go since he had gotten his act together and had been good for the rest of the day.
And how I told him he still couldn’t go to the party
And how I felt guilty and contemplated caving but ultimately didn’t.
And then a reader left this comment:
I get that we have to be hard on them an stick to the punishments we set, but if they do good an try to redeem them self’s an we still say no, isn’t that showing them that even if they are good they don’t get the reward? …
First of all, if you are in a situation where you have to redeem yourself, then you need to put in some time.
I am not sending the message to my kids that you can basically do whatever the hell you want as long as you repent from breakfast through lunch.
A couple hours of behaving and self control and following the directions is not demonstrating that a lesson has been learned.
That you know right from wrong. That you are behaving just because it’s the right thing to do.
Sure, I told him that I really liked the way he was following the directions.
And that that was the kind of behavior that would earn him the privilege of going to the next party he was invited to.
If he kept doing it.
All the time.
But not for one morning.
Because you don’t study one time for two hours and get an A+.
You don’t try hard at one baseball practice and make the starting line up.
You don’t practice violin for one hour and play first chair in the orchestra.
And in this house, you don’t do the right thing for one morning and then go to a birthday party.
Because kids don’t need to go to birthday parties.
They don’t need iPhones or iPads or Kindles or goodie bags or Peachwave or playdates or their own car or parents who enable them.
They don’t need to be constantly praised. No matter what.
They don’t need awards because they participated or because someone else got one, too.
They do need the basic necessities. Food. Water. Shelter. Love. Affection.
They also need structure. Discipline. Consistency.
The need positive reinforcement when they are doing the things you want them to do.
But they also need a fucking reality check and some reasonable consequences when they do shit that is unacceptable.
Like slamming their little sister’s head into a table.
You don’t get rewarded for managing not to hurt your little sister.
Chris Rock does a bit about parents who piss him off.
Parents who, as he says, “want credit for shit they’re supposed to do. ”
Parents who say, “I take care of my kids!”
His response to that?
“You’re supposed to, you dumb mothahfuckah!”
He talks about parents who brag, “I ain’t never been to jail!”
“What do you want? A cookie? You’re not suppoooosed to go to jail!”
And it’s the same for kids.
In this house anyway.
You don’t get rewarded because you made it through two hours without injuring any members of your family.
Because you’re not supposed to hurt your sister in the first place.
Nope. You don’t get a cookie for that.
And you sure as hell don’t get to go to a party for it either.