Unlike My Parents Did

I had wonderful parents. My mother was firm but fair and my father always had time to play games, sports or listen to music with me. Both of them were excellent listeners and inspired in me a desire to never disappoint. I tried to honestly conform to their reasonable expectations and was rewarded during my teen years for doing so. My friends were always welcome at my home and many of them expressed feeling like my house was a place they always felt comfortable.

Like most children, there were times I thought I was pulling the wool over my parents.  Most of the time I stayed home sick from school, I wasn’t ill in the slightest, but I would make sick noises, look forlorn and say there was no way I could possibly go to school that day. Then, as soon as they were both gone to work, or if my mother was home, once the school day had started, I would settle myself on the sofa for a full day of television and staying in my pajamas. I am sure that my parents knew when I was faking, but they allowed me the illusion.

There were some consequences to staying home. I wasn’t allowed to play outside that day or to see friends, but truthfully I was more than content to spend time alone and this was not much of a detriment.

Now that I am raising my own two boys, I want them to earn that same trust I had with my parents. I also want them to understand choice and consequence. While I really appreciate my father and mother, I am taking a different course when it comes to staying home from school.

Yesterday, one of my sons came upstairs claiming he was sick, and he was not sure if he should go to school. No fever, no other symptoms but stomach cramps and some need for a close bathroom, but I let him make the choice. I remember how great it was, those days with nothing but television and no responsibility. The rule we have set up (and this was not just thrown at him yesterday) is that if you are too sick for school, you are too sick for anything but your room. This includes no video games, no television, no activities after school with brothers or friends.

Usually, the reminder of these restrictions is enough to get the boy downstairs and ready for school. Yesterday, he decided to try me. By 11 he was already antsy. He came upstairs for lunch, telling me he felt so much better. I told him I was glad he felt better but that didnt change anything. He could have lunch, them back to the room.

The night was more of a torture for him. Every time he tried to play with his brother, he was scolded and sent back to his room. Later, he asked me why we had the rule in place about no activities and I told him how things were when I was a kid (that always brings out the best faces), that I thought it was important for him to be in school every day he could but  how I knew that some days, you just don’t want to and I wanted him to understand that was allowed, but that it came with a consequence that both Sheryl and I thought would be effective.

He then said how he wished he could have grown up in my parents house. I told him it was great! I am sure it was a long day for him but I hope he at least learned something.




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About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

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