Unfortunately, so am I.
Transfer not our transgressions …
Last year, on my birthday, I was grounded. In fact, I was grounded for the entire week surrounding it. Things weren’t looking good for me and the weekend either, but fortunately attitudes improved radically, lessons were learned and I was ungrounded just in time to celebrate someone else’s birthday at Buca di Beppo.
Actually, it wasn’t me that was grounded. It was my 9-year-old daughter, Maggie. The week before, she had thrown down some unbelievably disrespectful and obnoxious behavior, several days in a row. I tried other punishments but they didn’t deter her in the slightest. Apparently it was the week of “see how far I can push my mother.” Hence the grounding.
The thing is, I didn’t want to ground my daughter for my own selfish reasons. With my birthday around the corner, and many kind invitations extended for celebrations -- including dinner at Lanning’s -- I knew the grounding was going to end up being my punishment, too. Maggie’s dad isn’t around to watch her and multiple nights with a babysitter at $40 a pop seemed ridiculous.
The price of punishment
Instead of one child at home pouting, we had two, especially on the night of my non-existent Lanning’s dinner. No “Oysters Rockefeller” and “Colorado Lamb Chops” for me.
How do we as parents deal with the punishments we dole out? Is setting boundaries for our children supposed to be this painful?
It seems that any punishment I come up with for Maggie involves lots of work on my part. If I ground her, I am stuck at home for days on end. If I have her clean something, I have to set up the supplies and supervise. If we stay home from the lake because Maggie chose to brush her teeth without toothpaste or water (and then lie about it), I miss out on a relaxing day. And so on.
The trick seems to be finding punishments that are somehow applicable only to the child. I am still working on that one.
Until I figure out this parenting technique, I have one thing going for me: Some of my other mom friends said they would be happy to play “mean mom” free of charge if I needed a night out during a grounding. Hopefully, I won’t need their help anytime soon. But, if I do, I will try to keep the words of M. Scott Peck in mind: “When we teach ourselves and our children discipline, we are teaching them and ourselves how to suffer and also how to grow.”
Worst case: I now plan for belated birthday dinners.