Grounded for Days and a Lifetime for the Lessons
verb [ trans. ]
• (often be grounded) prohibit or prevent (a pilot or an aircraft) from flying : a bitter wind blew from the northeast, and the bombers were grounded.
• informal (of a parent) refuse to allow (a child) to go out socially as a punishment : he was grounded for hitting her on the head.
It happens. One minute the children are sweet and carefree, the sunshine of youth like a halo upon their hair, and then, just as you are lulled by cheerful song into long, lazy smiles, they turn on you. It's a fact. You can look it up.
Perhaps you are quick to anger. Perhaps you never do. You may talk and reason. You may spank. The options for addressing a child's negative behavior are as plentiful as they are personal, and like any heated issue it makes for compelling conversation at cocktail parties, especially after everyone has been drinking heavily (call a cab!).
I've dabbled here and there, trying to find what works best for my kids. I'm not big on punishment for the sake of punishment, but I do feel that certain behaviors need to be corrected and that, as a parent, it is my job to see that it happens. I tend to traffic more in consequences than castigation.
For instance, I recently wrote a piece about my son and the Jekyll to Hyde journey that his need for video games leads him down. It's not a pretty path, and frankly, it is unacceptable. There was a process, negotiations that broke down, and one day, when enough was enough, the video game system was taken away. He was grounded.
That was the easy part.
The hard part is the learning of lessons and determing whether or not such behavior has, or can be, corrected. The terms regarding the loss and return of his gaming system were simple, he will get it back when he is ready. He cannot earn it by chores (which is a whole different post), time served, or random stints of kindness. Rather, he needs to show that he can survive without the game and the trappings of it. He cannot whine and yell that he will no longer whine and yell. It's all so Kung Fu.
The concept is easy enough to grasp for an almost 9-year-old, but the practice is much harder. That doesn't change with age.
It is a far cry from the discipline I received as a child, which occasionally came at the end of the belt, but also included such outside the box thinking as the cutting of my hair (I had a sweet rattail in 8th grade, followed by an equally impressive mullet), taking down all of my KISS posters (my entire room was covered), and not being able to wear my purple Converse for an allotted period of time. I'm sure there were others.
While I applaud the attempts at originality, the restrictions, as they were called, rarely fit the crime. Basically, they were just things that I loved but really embarrassed my parents, and when they saw an opportunity to get rid of said things, they took it. Well played, Mom and Dad.
We, however, are striking at the source, and it does not embarrass me at all.
The grounding will pass in a matter of weeks. The lessons, I hope, will shape a lifetime.
There is something to learn for all of us.