I came up with the ultimate punishment for teenagers when my daughter was 14 years old.
I must confess that I was not able to implement it since my wife thought it was just too mean. In hindsight, I think I should have fought for it harder. Because, really, what most of us want our children to learn is to analyze the consequences of their actions, and I feel this punishment does exactly that!
We all think (or hope) our children are angels and don’t do anything seriously wrong. Of course, I thought this way when my oldest was 12. Then the teenage years hit and I learned how naive I was. My daughter is now a sophomore in college, doing great and by most standards did very little wrong (she was also pretty easy to catch when she did something wrong, so that helped.)
But, when she was 14 she did something we could not believe. My wife caught her smoking a hookah with some friends. For those of you who do not know what this is (like me at the time), it is a form of flavored tobacco frequently used in bongs and is legal for adults. We were relieved she wasn’t smoking pot, however, we were still NOT happy.
After the incredulousness of catching my angel doing something I thought was inconceivable wore off, it was time to come up with the appropriate punishment. That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head.
What I proposed was the following:
1. My wife and I would secretly write down what we thought was an appropriate punishment for the offense.
2. My daughter would secretly write down what she thought was the appropriate punishment for the offense.
3. Final punishment would be determined as follows:
– If our daughter’s punishment was more severe than what we wrote down, then that would be her punishment.
– If our daughter’s punishment was less severe than what we wrote down, then the punishments would be added together.
Of course, my daughter’s reaction was, “You can’t do that!” and my wife said, “That is too mean!” But I, on the other hand, thought there was no better way for her to understand and really think about the consequences of actions. I hoped that this process would make her think before doing something wrong the next time.
Hopefully one of the parents reading this blog can use my ultimate punishment and give me feedback on whether it’s a brilliant or dumb idea. It certainly wouldn’t be the first dumb idea I had!