Have you ever had to resort to tough love parenting just to drive a critical life lesson into a child’s psyche?
As a loving parent, it definitely is painful to have to intentionally let a child suffer the consequences of his or her actions.
It’s especially more painful when you have to watch her suffer.
My Daughter’s Bad Decision
It’s fall in every other part of North America but old man Winter decided to come to our part of the world sooner than expected.
We were expecting a couple inches of snow two weeks ago.
A lot of schools had issued no school advisories and parents were advised to have kids geared up for Winter.
So the evening after the snow warnings were issued I made it a point to have the winter preparedness talk with my girls.
The following morning as our girls were getting ready for school I got up to make sure they have all their Winter gear ready.
So when I got into the garage around 2 pm I was UNpleasantly surprised to see our 13 year old girl’s snow boots.
Despite the snow warnings and our talk, she had decided to leave her snow boots.
She had made a choice. A bad one at that.
As I stood there thinking, I figured that if she was OK with walking in the cold-ankle-high snow with fabric shoes, then who was I to question her choice?
I just shrugged my shoulders and got into the car.
Just as I backed out of the garage my phone had an incoming text.
I backed out, closed the garage door and stopped to look at my phone.
Guess who was calling?
Miss cool-no-snow-boots-required herself.
I stopped the car to read the text.
She wanted me to pick her from school as there was too much snow and it was too cold.
If we had not discussed the importance of having proper boots on during winter I would have understood.
I might have considered picking her up.
But we had discussed this and I made sure both girls dug out their snow boots from the Winter gear storage bins.
If there’s a lesson I’m always teaching my girls it’s this…
Actions have consequences.
Missy was going to learn hers the cold way.
So since buddy had decided to leave her uncool snow boots in favor of the cool and hip Adidas sneakers, I decided that she would have to WALK home from school in the biting snow.
Tough Love Parenting Decision
I ignored the text and went my way.
I did my shopping and decided to drive back using the same route that Missy uses from school.
As I drove slowly looking to the side of the road, I saw her ahead of me.
When I was about to pass her I honked, waved and drove on.
As I passed her, my heart ached and bled.
She was in pain. I was in pain.
I almost stopped but I had to be strong.
Parenting is hard business. I had to be strong for my daughter’s sake.
This was her cross to carry.
If I’m going to succeed in having my daughter learn from her mistakes, then I would have to be strong enough to let her suffer the consequences of her decisions.
So I gritted my teeth and drove on.
I made hot chocolate and cranked up the fireplace as soon as I got home.
When she got home she was not in a mood to talk.
You can imagine the I-hope-you-rot-in-hell death stare she gave me as she briskly made her way to her room.
She was mad.
I followed her and force hugged her nevertheless.
She began to cry as I held her. I had to fight back my own tears.
It’s a lesson she was supposed to learn and I wasn’t going to let my parental instincts get in the way.
After we hugged I left her to change. When she came up I served her the hot chocolate and we had a long conversation about…
Actions, decisions and their consequences.
I didn’t have to pour salt on the wound.
I just had to make her see how it was her decision that led her to the situation she found herself in.
From being mad at me for letting walk home in the snow, she got mad at herself for making a foolish decision.
The cold had taught her a lesson that I’m sure she will never forget.
As I sat in the bathtub later that night reflecting, I wondered if I had been been too tough.
What if she had suffered frost bite?
No. The distance from her school was too short for her to get frost bite.
But did I have to go as far as letting her walk when I could have picked her up and sought another way to drive my point home?
Haaaa!! This parenting gig is just one hell of a gig.
A Safe Environment
Tough love parenting is great for teaching kids painful life lessons.
This is more so because children get to go through the pain and suffering that goes with living through their bad choices in a safe environment.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have my kids go through pain while I still can help them.
Experience IS the best teacher, yes.
But I’d rather have that teacher whip my kid into line while I oversee the whipping.
The real world is the best life classroom but again, I’d rather have my children do practice runs before the real thing.
Maybe I’m just weak, but it just gives me comfort to know that my kids have had a practice run at suffering through the consequences of their actions in the safety of home.
What are you thoughts?
Was I too tough? Would you do that to your child?
To what lengths would you go to teach your kids important life lessons?