Parenting Like You Mean It! hits home.
(Thanks to my good friend and pastor, Hans Googer, for inspiring me to get back on my blogging horse and ride!)
So, basically I have decided I will just hope someday Shep will either understand the value of me using stories about his life on my blog or find it in his heart to forgive me. I really do mean it when I say this, as I want him to know someday that I (will) respect him as a man, and I want to share stories such as the following in light of that commitment. Anyway, without further ado…
So, my son seems to have inherited his Dad’s tendency to place socializing and merriment before work. I won’t go into my regrets and what a lifetime of struggle this has been for me, but let’s just say I am committed to working with Chemaine and with Shep’s teachers to do all we can to help him turn this ship around sooner, rather than later. After a few reports from his Montessori school teacher that he was excelling in social connection, while slacking in work product (his work has been excellent – he just hasn’t done much of it), I suggested a plan of motivational support on our part, which my wife and my son’s teacher both supported enthusiastically. In order to fully appreciate the plan, let’s take a quick side trip.
My son LOVES his screen time! (I will soon do a post entirely devoted to the subject of screen time.) Sometimes, I think his priorities are: air, water, food, Wii, other screen time, and then whatever else he can fit in his busy schedule. You getting what I’m saying here? THIS BOY LOVES HIS SCREEN TIME!!! Okay, back to our story…
We decided to put in place a new “deal” wherein Shep must meet a minimum standard of pieces of classwork (it’s a Montessori thing) finished each day at school, if he is to get his standard allotment of one hour of screen time that afternoon/evening. Upon consultation with his wonderful teacher, we agreed that four pieces of work is a very reasonable standard to expect of him, given his abilities. After implementing the new plan, we decided three pieces of work would allow him half an hour of screen time. Anything less than three – no dice, Jack! He proudly came home the first day and told us about doing SIX pieces of work that day. “Way to go, dude! I knew you could do it! I hope you’re proud of what you did today!” Over the next few days, the numbers he reported to us ranged from five to three, as I recall. Then, my wife, who volunteers at our son’s school, decided to take a look at his work report sheet and talk with his teacher about how he was doing, and if the new system seemed to be working.
Turns out the little rascal had lied to us for two days straight, boldly deceiving us by telling us he had done more work than he had truly done. While I am sad to admit that he also inherited this sinful trait directly from me, God has done much work on me in this department, and I determined not to let shame of my own moral failings keep me from holding my son to God’s standard of honesty and integrity. Chemaine and I rather calmly (thanks, Hal!) explained from each of our perspectives how and why we were disappointed in his actions, and that we were going to help him learn to live to God’s higher standard. We also made clear that we love him very much and believe he can do better, so we are going to do our best to help him get there. And then, we dropped THE BOMB…
NO SCREEN TIME FOR A WEEK!
We have never lowered the boom on him this hard, but we agreed that this time he needed a severe consequence (for a seven year old) to impress upon him how serious we are about him living with integrity in his character, both in his work ethic and in his honest speech. Slack off and pay. Tell a lie and pay more. Slack off and willfully begin a pattern of lies, and pay big time! This was a painful decision, but Chemaine and I agreed it was the right one to help our lad find the necessary motivation to turn this ship around. I just thought this was the painful part. No, indeed!
But it seems I’ve gone on long enough for one post. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you what happened on Sunday of No-Screen Week that broke my heart, crushed Shep, and left him crying in my lap during church.