Rita, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” and also “Try not to make threats you are not prepared to follow through on.” Tip #11 and #12
Tip #11 and #12 go together. Saying what you mean is key, and will prevent the temptation to make empty threats. Following these tips will minimize wasted time, aggravation, and confusion. Saying what you mean promotes trust, security, and love. I too made every attempt to be true to my words, and my threats.
I felt it was fair, and imperative, to announce the consequences as early as possible. We talked about issues such as drinking, drugs, and peer pressure, years prior to the threat.
I would often fabricate scenarios and ask Michael to consider how he might handle them. I think doing this established strong critical thinking skills at an early age.
At times, I would have Michael determine his own punishment for rule breaking. Surprising, often he was harsher than I ever would have been.
It is a great exercise for many reasons. It develops communication, understanding, and skills in pre-planning. I also think it is unifying and respectful, working together to determine strategies and outcomes. You’re on the same page! Caution: This takes much more time than dictating.
A good example is our conversation on school grades. We had an “Average 85% Rule.” Michael determined above average was his desired goal. We landed on an 85 average as the standard.
Whenever I could, punishments were determined before a ‘crime’ was committed. This prevented us, as parents, from acting out of anger or disappointment. It promoted fairness and clarity.
In the school example, the punishment was predetermined should he go below 85%. We decided if that were to happen, we as parents would determine his study schedule. Until then, he determined the schedule. Michael did not want that to happen! He did not want us controlling him, really at all.
The same could be said for our “Dinner-time Rule.” In our home, we absolutely said what we meant, and meant what we said. Dinner at 5:30, meant five-three-zero, not 5:35! If 5 minutes was thought “no big deal,” then he could be home at 5:25 the next day.
It is challenging to parent this way. Why get ‘into it’ over five minutes? I’ll tell you why, if 5 minutes is no big deal, then why is 10 minutes a big deal? Nip it all in the bud.
I realize, no one really wants to have the discussion at 5:35 when dinner is getting cold. I didn’t, but did anyway and it was worth it. To this day, if Michael is running even 5 minutes late, you’ll hear from him or he’ll be racing in with an apology.
Rita and I both prioritized respect. We didn’t only expect it of our children, we expected it of ourselves. It’s a great governing principle.
I’m sure I’ll soon get to meet Rita in person, maybe a ‘wing-date.’ I have no doubt that Rita and I will be sharing our parenting experiences face-to-face in the near future.