I know you write about dating things here, but I've read some of the things on your website and really respect how you think. So I'm hoping you can answer my question on parenting.
My wife and I have been married for two years, but together for a total of eight years. We have a six year old son that started first grade last week. I am sorry to say that my wife and I are still not on the same level on discipline with our son.
On Thursday our son said some very explicit and inappropriate words at school, and I decided to put him on punishment for four days. The second day of his punishment my wife wanted to let him off because she was sad that he was crying.
My question to you is four days of punishment too long for saying explicit words at school? I need to add that we are black, and the school counselor threated to call social services on my family.
Trying to Do The Right Thing
Dear Right Thing:
Children need to learn there are consequences for negative behavior. Though punishment should never be abusive (as in beatings, torture, or denial of food/water), and always age-appropriate, I believe all children should be punished when they do the wrong thing. Part of our responsiblity as parents is to raise our children to be positive contributors to society, and that often means doing what we know we SHOULD do, even when it might not be what we want to do.
Too many modern parents want to be their child's buddy or friend, instead of their mother or father. Parents can be friends with their children when the children are adults. When young, you cannot be your child's friend if that friendship conflicts with your duty and obligations to teach, correct, reward, admonish and instruct your child on life and his/her responsibilities.
I say all that so you understand where I am coming from now: Do not ever let a woman interfere with you correcting your son. That is a huge mistake that I've seen many women make and it saddens me. These moms coddle their sons and are tough as nails on girls when it should be the other way around.
It's bad enough that most of our young black men are being raised without their fathers at all, so when I hear stories like this it's extremely frustrating for me. You are there with your son and trying to do the right thing. In my opinion, your wife needs to take a seat and basically shut up.
Stand strong on this and do not back down. Let your wife know, lovingly and respectfully of course, that it is important to you to raise a responsible, accountable MAN... not some panty wearing sissy boy whose mother babies him and interferes in his lessons on manhood.
Tell her to never, ever question your discipline again because it presents to your child that you two are not a unified team. This is a weakness that some (most) children exploit when they are older, so the time to fix this attitude of your wife's is right now. Tell her you refuse to have a son that acts like a zip damn fool and puts the entire family at risk for legal action.
Anyway, four days is nothing!!!! My Dad would be putting our butts on lockdown for WEEKS if we clowned in school. My parents did not play that mess up in school stuff. If we got sent home with a note, or OMG if the school had to call the house, we knew life as we had previously known it was over for a long time.
The important thing to do here is to make sure you talk to your son about his behavior, not just mete out punishments.
Make your conversation age-appropriate as he grows up, but you must always clearly communicate your expectations and his role in the family. Set out for him in detail what he will and will not do at school and at home, and let him know in advance what the punishment will be for any transgressions. If he should break one of the rules, be sure to follow through with the punishment that you told him you would deliver. That way he can clearly see that he and he alone is responsible for the consequences suffered by wayward behavior.
A reward list is nice as well. Like if he gets so many Excellent's on his report card at the end of the school term, or an A on a test, he will get to go see a movie, or get to stay up an extra hour, or have a friend come for a sleepover - something like that.
The talking part is the thing most parents seem to forget. You cannot just slap a child with a punishment and not tell him or her in detail WHY it was wrong. That was always the worst part to me - the talking. My Dad would go on and on and on. By the 30 minute mark you would agree to anything just to make him shut up. But his words stuck and I remember them to this day.
Parent your child and do it well. It's the most important job you will ever have. You can raise a young man that you and your wife, as well as the rest of your family and community can be proud of, or you can raise a delinquent that will end up involved in the criminal justice system, throwing his life and opportunities away.
The time to start laying the foundation for this little boy to become that brilliant young black man of the future is right now.