|I wish all consequences could be natural........|
My 8 year old daughter pointed out my parental inadequacies this week. Without going into details, we had a conflict in our house this weekend. I imposed a consequence for behavior which I felt was disrespectful. My 8 year old said to me, “Mom, your big thing lately has been Logical Consequences. How is what you did logical?” Gee.....let me think......it wasn’t. Hmm. My bad.
My bad. I am willing to admit that I am far from perfect. I wish so desperately that I had an instruction manual to parent my girls. This time I had to take some direction from my child. Upon reflection I decided that my consequence was not a consequence, it was a punishment. I returned the material item that I have taken away and decided that a logical consequence would be to take on a chore that is not normally done by my child every day for a week. It seems logical to me that the result of disrespecting a parent would be to help that parent out in a very meaningful way.
I first heard of logical consequences when I was teaching. It was how our school handled classroom management. The theory is that some consequences are natural. If Lilah leaves her Polly Pockets on the floor and Jake (our dog) chews the legs off one, she may be reluctant to leave her toys on the floor again. But some natural consequences do not come quickly enough to have impact, like not wearing a seat belt or not looking both ways before crossing the street. Sometimes parents have to impart a consequence. If it is closely tied to the action, I perhaps the child will actually learn something from it rather than just be annoyed, angry or hurt. Is the consequence respectful? Is the consequence relevant? Is the consequence realistic? These are things I try to keep in mind.
For example if our bedtime routine takes so long that bedtime goes past 9:00pm, then the next night bedtime will begin earlier. Or if I don’t get any help cleaning up the mess that does not belong to me, when we have an opportunity to have friends over, I will have to say no. My goal is to teach the girls that being part of our family has rights as well as responsibilities. At times it is not easy. At times we screw up. The constant is that love remains the same. This time it was my mistake. Tomorrow it may be Greg’s or Grace’s....we apologize, we accept the consequence, we try to do better the next time. God willing we will be given a fresh day to try it again and try once again to do better.