Thursday, June 10, 2010

Learn-As-You-Go Parenting

'Cuz, really, that's what it is, right?

So, the latest (if you're tiring of my recent focus on Kevin and his teenage adventures, skip this, because it's another one about him): Yesterday morning I grounded Kevin for the day from computer usage for mouthing off to me, as he is apt to do more and more these days. Let me just say that we are very strict with his computer usage to begin with. He has to ask to use the computer, and he gets 30 minutes of computer time a day, which has become very precious to him with all this email shit going on. So taking away computer privileges hits him where it hurts. So he got his computer privileges taken away for the day for being disrespectful. Which, of course, he wasn't happy about.

Fast forward to later in the afternoon. I had to go run an errand and left Kevin in charge. It came to my attention that while I was gone, he got on the computer to check his email. I realized this while I was still out and my first reaction was fury. Okay, maybe not fury, but I was pretty pissed off, and ready to go home, grab him by the ear and give him a severe talking-to. He's being dishonest! He's sneaking around behind my back! This is where it all starts! These were the things going through my mind.

I took a few deep breaths and spent the next 20 minutes thinking it through. "Okay, if I go home and storm into the house and let him have it, all he's going to hear is 'Blahblahblahblahblahblahblah.' I need to come up with a better plan," I reasoned with myself.

So I decided to play it cool. Or, at least as cool as I could. And let me just say that this takes quite a bit of effort on my part, as I admittedly have a very short fuse and a loud voice. The twins' kindergarten graduation ceremony was last night (more on that later), and I decided I didn't want to put any kind of damper on that by confronting this situation with Kevin beforehand. So I went home and didn't say a word about it. I was stressed just because we were running short on time and I had to get everyone fed and dressed and out the door for the graduation. Kevin sensed something and asked me a couple times if I was mad at him (guilty conscience much?), and I just said, "No, I'm not mad. Why would I be mad?" I wanted him to worry over it for a while.

So we got through the graduation, came home, got the littles to bed, and then I found Kevin sitting out on the front porch reading a book. I sat down next to him, and right away he got defensive. "What? What did I do wrong?" he asked. So transparent, that boy. I just said, "Right now, you need to be listening and not talking." He shut up. I gave him my little prepared speech that I had been rehearsing in my head all evening. It went something like this:

"You're a good kid, Kev, and I'm really proud of you. I want you to realize, though, that we give you privileges and freedom based on your showing us that you can be trusted. When you show that you can't be trusted, you lose privileges and freedom. I know you got on the computer while I was gone and checked your email-" and at this point his eyes widened and he opened his mouth, and I said, "Please don't deny it, because I'll just lose respect for you then. I know you did it. You lost computer privileges today and you went behind my back and got on the computer anyway, and you hoped that I wouldn't find out, but I did. I'm disappointed. So now, no computer or phone tomorrow. And remember, if you show that you can't be trusted, you lose privileges. If you show that you can be trusted you gain privileges and freedom. Okay?" He just nodded, without saying a word. I hugged him, and went back inside, leaving him to his book and his thoughts.

That went pretty well, I thought. And I felt pretty pleased with myself for handling it calmly and thoughtfully, if I do say so myself.

Of course, this is just the start. I have no doubt that this message of trust will have to be repeated many, many times over the next few years.



diane rene said...

ugh, you are so right, you learn as you go. and they all test that "behind your back thing"

and as much as we hate it, we kinda have to be glad that they will find a way to get what they want - as long as it's not against OUR wishes

but what's funnier is he has no idea HOW you know - lol - and that part is awesome in the mom book of defenses.

you handled it well, high five. I am often heard before I am seen ad it takes a ton of control to wait for the perfect time to confront my kids - perfect meaning, having the desired effect and not the instant gratification of screaming ;0)

Cindy said...

I have to say you handed that really well. It might have gone bad if you were to jump and yell at him which was what I would have probably done! This is good parenting. good luck!

Cindy said...

I have to say you handed that really well. It might have gone bad if you were to jump and yell at him which was what I would have probably done! This is good parenting. good luck!