Better, Not Bitter:
One Foolproof Tactic To Make Discipline Work
Parenting a teenager is tough sometimes. When things are difficult we wonder, will everything ever fall into place? Often when you hit those rough patches it feels like nothing we do is right.
Making decisions about discipline is one of the areas that can bring extreme conflict. In a two-parent family when making the decisions, at least you have the other parent to discuss and hopefully, support the final decision. When co-parenting, choices regarding discipline can create massive conflict between the child and one or both parents.
Our family has been dealing with this issue for over a year regarding the priviledge to drive a car. Our son was not working as hard as I knew he could in school. Although he had reached the minimum age to secure his learner’s permit, I refused to give my permission until his grades showed real improvement.
Now mind you, he wasn’t failing or anything. But he wasn’t pushing himself to do his best and I was not satisfied. I tried to convince him with words. I even tried to bribe him. Previous punishments weren’t achieving the desired results. So I hit him where I knew it would hurt. No driving.
Not everyone agreed with me. I won’t get into the details but suffice it to say that I was standing alone in the beginning. And our home was not a happy place for a little while as I continued to stand my ground and demand performance.
It took almost a year to get results. I didn’t give up. Although the requests to sign the learner’s permit application were raised as each small benchmark was reached, I stood my ground. It wasn’t fun. And I felt awful for having to be the bad guy. But I knew it was the right thing to do. And besides, as a single mom, the insurance company discount for good grades is important to me as I need to spend our resources wisely. And car insurance for a teenage male is expensive.
I agreed to let him take the test after the second semester ended. He studied a little, but he thought I was overemphasizing the amount of memorization and taking practice tests that would be required to pass the test. When he walked out of the testing room I could tell from his face it was an epic fail. I felt bad for him, but I silently prayed that this would teach him a lesson. So I decided to wait.
Over the next few weeks, I saw a gradual improvement in his work habits and willingness to help around the house. Soon after, he mentioned retaking the permit test. I agreed and we set a date. I then noticed him almost every day online taking the study course I had purchased months before. I resisted the urge to comment. I just prayed.
The day for the retest finally arrived and we drove to the DMV. The tension on the ride was palpable. This time I so wanted him to pass. He worked hard and he deserved it. Would the Universe comply? As he exited the testing room he gave me a ‘thumbs-up’ sign!
This exercise helped to reinforce in my mind, the most important tool we have as parents when implementing discipline: Consistency. If you waffle and fail to back up your word, you are creating problems for your future. This whole process wasn’t a happy one. But I feel confident that this was the right choice. At least, I hope it is.
What do you think is the most important aspect of disciplining kids?