Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Break the Rules...

Recently I talked about a challenge I extended to my three kids.

At the time, they were all good students but I wanted to see them stay there, or strive for better, so I told them that as long as they each got B’s across the board on their report card; we would take them out to dinner. (You might think that dinner is not enough of a reward; well, we rarely eat out-so yes, this motivated them them.)

This sounded like a great idea! All kids get/maintain all B's we go out to eat!! Hooray!

First marking period came; all winners!

Second marking period came; , all winners again!

Third marking period; um, not so lucky. Someone didn't make all B's.

Now, someone has to stay home right?(For the younger ones we planned for a sitter.)

So, the rule stated: you had to get all B’s to go to dinner- or that person would not be able to go.

Ugh.

Reality set in....
My idea sounded great, until of course, one of them did not make it…

Now, what do I do???

Never did I think they wouldn’t do it.

Never did I think I’d be faced with going to dinner with just two of my three kids (which frankly, just thinking about that had made me lose my appetite).

That meant I’d be leaving one kid behind while we all went out together as a family. It was sad.

It was LUDICROUS!
But, it was my dumb idea and now I had to figure out how to teach that child the lesson they needed (and not reward them) but not leave her feeling alone and rejected. I also wanted to somehow not feel completely-dreadfully -awfully-guilty in the process.

So, as we moved forward as planned, the child with the highest grades chose the restaurant. Then we picked the night. 

We never told the one who didn’t get all B’s that they would not be going. (Basically because we could not find the heart to tell!)

The night came to celebrate…

So, what did I do?

I changed the rules. (Yes I cheated.—But parents are allowed, as long as they don’t do it often.)

Call me crazy, undisciplined, or a ‘fraidy-cat, and I would say that, ‘yes, I was all of those’.

But, I just had to make a change to the rule!

I couldn’t bare either of those consequences.
(And trust me, at this point, I couldn’t believe her failure to reach the goal was making ME feel so bad.)

We let her go to dinner with us, but…
She did not get her usual milkshake or soda or strawberry lemonade
She did not get to gloat with her siblings for the week before and during the dinner
She did not get to pick the restaurant and she did not seem proud during it
She was still humiliated and was upset that she missed the mark.

So, although I went against my own word and changed rules midstream, which I often regard as a #1 No-No in parenting....

She still learned something
She learned that never again was she letting her 1st and 4th grade siblings beat her, and she was never going to get a C again…this marking period she is on track for all A’s.

Since parenting is always such a grand educational experience I learned something too:
It's sometimes okay to change the rules and never make a rule you can’t follow through with.

And how do you know if you can or cannot? Just play ‘worst case scenario’ in your head (that ought to do it).  

So how did Mom fair this quarter?

She got an F…for Fraidy-Cat.

Truly,
Amber



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