In the heat of the moment it’s easy to lose your cool as a parent and entertain the extreme.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
As much as crazy ideas pop into my head, it’s one thing to enforce creative consequences to get through to your kid, but it’s something else entirely to traumatize them.
Growing up my mom was the primary disciplinarian, mostly because Dad worked during the day and Mom was the parental unit we had the most contact with.
(That’s not to say Mom wasn’t working while at home with us boys. Depending on the day she’d probably have switched placed with Dad and drove a dump truck over keeping us in line.)
Anyway, Mom made discipline into an art. Rather than tell us something for the thousandth time or apply the same punishment to a particular offense, she’d get creative.
I distinctly remember a season where my younger brother, Matt, and I slacked off on chores. Dad happened to be away on a fishing boat in Alaska so the “Wait until your father gets home” threat didn’t hold any water (pun intended).
Well, one Saturday we woke up late and Mom was out running errands. We stumbled into the kitchen yawning and opened the refrigerator to forage for breakfast only to discover it was completely empty!
We yanked open the pantry door to find the same result. All the food in the house was gone.
We’d been robbed! (Or so we thought.)
Mom had hidden all the food and wouldn’t let us eat until we scrubbed the refrigerator, cleaned the kitchen, and caught up on a few other chores. Afterwards, we were allowed a glass of water and a piece of toast.
Needless to say it was a long time before blew off chores or forgot to show gratitude for Mom.
Were we hungry? Yes.
Were we scarred for life? Absolutely not.
Which brings me back to desperate measures for dealing with kids.
There is a video circulating around social media of a dad who obliterated his son’s entire collection of Xbox video games with a riding lawnmower.
(The video includes some graphic language, so it’s not included here, but you can click to link to watch if you like.)
Allegedly, the dad is tired of his son loafing around playing video games all the time without getting a job or contributing. He then takes the son’s library of Xbox titles to the backyard and annihilates them with the lawnmower while the son looks on in terror.
My initial reaction was a mixture of laughter and admiration. That’s one way to solve a video game addiction, right? Way to be tough on a lazy kid.
But then I started asking questions:
- What does this act of destruction really accomplish?
- What led up to this point?
- Does the dad demonstrate the work ethic he expects from his son?
- How many of the video games did the dad buy for the son?
- How long has the son’s behavior gone on for?
- What will their relationship be like going forward?
- Did any healthy, constructive conversations happen before this event?
- Were any alternatives to the demolition derby explored?
- What are the repercussions for the son as a result of this incident going viral?
- Was this whole ordeal completely staged in the first place?
Kids push their parents to the limit. And sometimes over the edge of reason. However, we are the adults and held to a higher standard. That’s why we are the parents and not the kids.
Yes, discipline may require creative means to achieve the desired end. But we are warned against parenting practices that setup our kids for failure.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
With our authority and power comes responsibility. Not only to raise our kids to become responsible citizens and provide for their physical needs, but protect their mental and emotional state as well.
What do you think of the lawnmower incident? How would you have reacted in the dad’s situation? Or how about the son?