Monday, July 9, 2007

Adventures in Parenting

We had a little incident here this morning that illustrates why parenting can be so hard at times. While dh and I were in our offices working, dsds14 took the initiative and went outside to bring in the recycler from the curb.

In and of itself, this is a good thing. In fact, I wish we'd seen that kind of initiative in our older kids at that age. So, what's the problem?

The problem is that we have a hard and fast rule that ds may not leave the house without permission. The reason for this is that he has run off in the past, and he has also demonstrated that he will go with strangers if they ask him to. Once he met a young woman from our church who thought he was cute and asked him teasingly, "Want to come home with me?" His response was "Let's go!" and he grabbed her by the arm and headed for the door. (We knew her parents, but ds didn't know them or her at that time.)

So this morning we were in a position where we had to punish him for something we would have applauded in our older kids. But he doesn't have the intelligence of his siblings; judgment is one of his weak areas. We cannot risk confusing him about the rules for leaving the house without permission. Otherwise, if he wakes up at 3 am one morning and decides he wants some fries, he'll be headed down the highway to McDonald's while we're asleep.

Since the house-leaving rule is a biggie, I had to mete out the ultimate punishment: I took away his GameCube. His response was to pack his suitcase, march down to the refrigerator for some orange pop to take with, and tell his sister he was headed to a hotel and needed a credit card. BUT he didn't try to leave the far, so good, I guess.


Janet said...

I tried to run away from home one time when I was 5. My brother pushed me down so I couldn't go, then ran over me with his bike. I didn't go. :-)

I think you're doing what's right. My brother-in-law is mentally handicapped and needs the same rule. It has to be set in stone or he just doesn't get it. His problem is that the punishment bugs him for about half an hour, then he forgets about it, so it's not always effective.

Dawn said...

I have no experience with this particular situation, but I would guess it is similar to enforcing rules for a toddler with older siblings. I do have one that likes to push the envelope and do good in the face of disobedience, but there is comprehension and it is very important to have consequences for those actions as well. Good insight into a parenting conundrum.

Susan said...

Oh, Barbara, that must've been hard this morning. These kinds of things are where I struggle with my youngest too. On the one hand, you want to reward the hard work, the initiative, the problem-solving skills, etc. Because they certainly need encouragement in that direction! But there are things they just can't do.

And then I really have a hard time when other moms, good friends who homeschool, tell me that I should let my daughter try because I don't want to underestimate her abilities. Then I'm never sure whether I'm being too paranoid. But when I read your post today, that is encouraging to me that sometimes the safety just has to take priority.

KarenW said...

It's amazing how kids raised in the same home can be so different. I pray you will have the wisdom to deal with this situation.

Barbara Frank said...

Janet, you sure had a protective brother, lol! And yes, sometimes my son forgets that he was disciplined, too.

Dawn, "do good in the face of disobedience" is a good way to put it.

Susan, I also struggle with the paranoia thing. But sometimes his naivete is so overwhelmingly obvious that it makes it easier for me to be strict with him.

Karen, thanks for your prayers---that's what I need the most!

Thanks, everyone, for commenting :)