When parents administer consequences to their children they don’t expect their young charges to sit up and applaud their efforts. Losing a privilege, especially something to which they very much looked forward, doesn’t usually sit well with the younger set. And taking away a beloved outing or pastime from a beloved child doesn’t usually sit well with parents either. They don’t enjoy, don’t take pleasure in it. They do it because they know in the long run it will benefit their child—this person they are charged with helping to understand this world we all live in.
It’s so easy to make excuses, to bend your expectations when your heart wants nothing more than for your child to be happy; it’s easy to make excuses when you think your child will be angry at you for setting limits, might voice negative feelings toward you, won’t love you anymore if you tell them they can’t go here or there or do this or that. But making excuses for your child today teaches him to make excuses for himself later—and that doesn’t sit well with anyone, not peers, partners, teachers, professors, or bosses. Children live in the moment and don’t think of the long-term ramifications of their actions, which is why parents must step in and do their job no matter what dings to their self-esteem may result.
Yesterday our son Edgar lost a beloved privilege. He was not happy. We were not happy. No one was happy. And Edgar’s initial reaction to learning that he lost the privilege clearly articulated how he felt about it at that moment, how he felt about us at that moment. Parental self-esteem fully dinged then dinged again.
But then this.
Dinged but most assuredly not irreparably damaged—and a reminder from a seven-year-old boy who despite—and maybe because of—the consequence he received knows he is loved and loves in return.