There are plenty of times over the course of 26 years as a mom that I’ve had to ground my children. I don’t like to do it. I’m really just an old softy. But after chances are given, and rules are still ignored, we have to follow up with the consequences our children know and expect. It’s part of being a good parent and teaching our children that we care, that we are dependable, in good times and bad. If we’re not reliable to keep our word when it inconveniences us, then how can they trust us to keep our word when it benefits them?
How we choose to discipline our children varies greatly between parents. Even in the same household, the outlines for consequences and the parenting styles can be different. But if your family is like mine, and you ground your children for certain behaviors, there are some things we never take away from the children. These are things that they need, even if we see them as a convenience or even a treat. No matter the behavior, we never take these three things away from our children.
There was a time when our home computer was a toy. I used it to write and the children used it to play games or email their friends. Even now, when the children use my partner’s computer (I have my own now just for writing), they are usually playing social games or checking their social network account. However, they also use it for homework. They check their scores on the school’s website, and they have communicated with their teachers via chat when they don’t understand their homework assignments. Teachers expect students to type reports and use the internet for research. I have to believe they make allowances for children who do not have a computer or access to the internet in their homes, but our children do.
When we ground our children for a number of days or a week, we do limit their computer time to school related business only. They can write reports, do research. But they cannot play games or socialize with friends. If we were to ban them from the computer completely, they would suffer longer term effects than the discipline warrants.
I don’t go to church. Neither does my partner, but our two youngest children (13 year old twins) do attend regularly. They attend Boy Scouts and Young Women’s groups on Wednesdays and they go to services on Sunday mornings. We have a deep respect for their spirituality and their religion. I do not share their beliefs, but I would never take away this time from them, no matter what the offense. Grounding a child is meant to teach a lesson; a lesson which can usually be boiled down to being a thoughtful, kind person. Where better to learn that than through spiritual development – no matter what religion one chooses to practice.
We are raising dependable, productive members of society. The keyword in this particular goal is “society”. If we were raising our children to be dependable productive members all by themselves, we’d switch our focus from thinking about others, to teaching them to thinking only about themselves.
With this in mind, consider the message we send to our children if we take away their opportunity to participate in sports, school plays, or other activities where others are depending on them? The activity may be fun for them, and we may not want them to have “fun” while they are being disciplined, but we simply grin and bear it. The fact remains that our children’s teammates (or co-stars, as the case may be), are counting on our children to do their part. If we keep them from participating, we’re teaching them that it’s okay to let other people down, which completely defeats the purpose of grounding them because they’ve us, and themselves, down.
What do you think? Should parents be wardens or teachers when it comes to grounding their children?
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