Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do The Right Thing

This is it. I'm officially hitting the stage of parenthood where I have to stand back and watch how good or bad of a job I've done laying a foundation for my children.

Some days I smile with pride. Other days, I flinch.

Without going into too many details... last night Charlie Brown came to me after bedtime to tell (tattle?) about something his brother Linus did. This "thing" was very dishonest, and Linus actually bribed Charlie Brown to keep quiet about it. But I guess Charlie Brown's conscience got the best of him, because he had to tell me about it. He didn't want Linus to be mad at him, but he also knew that what Linus had done was wrong and he had to tell me the truth.

At first, I'm steaming mad. I am all ready to stomp into Linus' room and tell him that he's grounded, or punished some other way. But, no, I decide to step back and cool off. After a few minutes of thinking, I realize that I need to find a way for Linus to correct his behavior. At the same time, I want to minimize my involvement so as not to damage the relationship between the two brothers. I think this is an important time for them (they are 8 and almost 7 years old) to start building the bond that brothers must have. Not that I want my husband and I to be the "them" in an "us against them" scenario, but my boys need to know how to stick together and watch each others' backs and keep each other out of trouble.

So, I decide to go back to Charlie Brown. I tell him that first thing in the morning, he is to give the bribe back to Linus. I tell him to tell Linus that he needs to "do the right thing" and correct his behavior. I tell Charlie Brown that Linus doesn't need to know that I'm involved; just let Linus know that you think he should do the right thing, because it's what God would want him to do and it's what Mom and Dad would want him to do. Then, we'll just wait to see if he does the right thing or not.

I told Charlie Brown, if he doesn't do the right thing, I'll step in and take care of the problem. But I want to give Linus the chance to make the right choice.

This is one of those situations where I cry a little bit inside. Why would one child make such a wrong choice when I have taught them all the same way, explaining about good choices and bad choices? They all have been given the same moral and ethical foundation from us. Why do some children just choose to ignore it and some choose to obey it? I know it has a lot to do with personality, but am I missing something that I should have done differently? Was there some formula that I screwed up when teaching my kids right from wrong?

So, today is the day. Today is when I see if my Linus chooses the right moral path or if I'll have to explain it to him again. That is a lesson I don't want to teach. This is the really un-fun part of being a parent.

And yet, at the same time, "yea" for Charlie Brown doing the right thing. It's not all turning out bad.


Foursons said...

Wow, let us know how it goes. I'm very interested in the outcome!

Emily said...

I'm with Foursons...I'm interested in seeing how it turns out! Hang in there.

Buggys said...

Could luck on this. For what it's worth I think you get high marks for handling this situation. I'm betting you have also taught your children well and he's going to do the right thing.

Jennifer said...

I hope it goes the right way. I can't wait to hear. But I understand what you are getting at. My brother and I are polar opposites and my mother raised us exactly the same way. Same thing with David and his sister. I really don't understand it.

Jen said...

This parenting thing keeps getting more and more difficult as they get older doesn't it?


StaceyC4 said...

Free will can totally suck sometimes! It is hard on the whole family in situations like this. But know that you are not alone. Every mom who reads this will be able to relate to it and each one will have a different outcome. I hope that it all turns out okay.

Stephanie said...

Im very impressed with your parenting skills, I hope I am as lucky to sit back and think about the situation before I react. I am a react-er. I'm trying to remedy that! Good luck with everything! Im interested to know how everything goes!

Anna See said...

This is a tricky one.
Yay for Charlie Brown.

Let us know what happens...

anymommy said...

Fingers crossed that he makes a really good choice the second time around.

Vicki said...

Good Job Mama! I am interested in seeing how it works out!

Wendy said...

A psychiatrist friend told me that around age 7 is a ripe age for lying and that sort of thing to start. Dolly went through it (and I thought I was a failure, too). She's outgrowing it. I wish I could remember the developmental reasoning, but I can't.

You had a good idea there, to try not to intervene. Be sure to go easy on the offender, to let him know how proud you are of him that he told the truth. Even if you have to punish him for the other thing. Make sure you separate the two actions.

You can do this, too, if he doesn't fess up. Let him know what the lighter punishment would have been if he had told the truth. That has worked pretty well for us.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

What ended up happening.

I have been doing the same thing - giving my kids a chance to right a wrong or to tell me the truth without trying to "trap" them the way I used to... Like... Hey did something happen in the basment yesterday when I wasn't down there. Now I say, "I know that something happened in the basement. I found such and such evidence of it. I would like you to think about it and come and tell me truthfully what happened. If you tell the truth, you will not be in as much trouble as lying, but I wil find out if you are lying. I always do."

And it is SOOOOO hard to do and keep my cool, cuz I want to EXPLODE at them!

And I have one that always comes clean. and one that rarely does. I can only pray each chance I give and each severe punishment for the action of lying and deceipt turns that rarely into always.