When I was in high school, I got grounded so many times my curfew eventually became 8:00pm.
It was normally my mouth that got me in trouble…saying the word “whatever”…rolling my eyes…or putting my hands on my hips (my mom really hated that one). It was the perfect combination of being a snotty teenager.
As you can imagine, an 8:00pm curfew is “debilitating” to a teenager’s social life. At least that was my argument to my parents over and over when I was 17.
So let me get to the point: I always made my curfew…but I snuck out. I would wait until my parents were asleep and then I would tip-toe downstairs…sneak out the backdoor…climb over the fence…and dart down the block where my friend was waiting in her car. It was always around 11:30 when I would make my daring escape. We would head to parties and I would have a few sips of Mad Dog, Boone’s Farm or Zima – it was the mid-90s and those were the classy beverages being served. Around 2:00am, I would sneak back into my house and head to bed.
I snuck out dozens of times…I had several parties when my parents were away…I did a lot of things I wasn’t supposed to do.
Whenever there is a story in the news about a kid who messed up, our first reaction is almost always, “where were the parents?! That’s bad parenting.”
That has been my reaction in the past.
But then I had to think back to my own childhood.
My parents were amazing.
And they were strict.
We had rules…we had chores…we had family dinners every night…we went to church together…we prayed together…we had curfews…we had a lot of hugs…we said I love you every morning, noon and night…we had our homework checked…we got grounded…we were afraid of disappointing our parents…we had heart-to-heart conversations…we had LOVE.
I still made bad choices.
My brother still made bad choices.
My sister still made bad choices.
Those bad choices weren’t made because we had horrible parents who didn’t know what they were doing.
We made bad choices because we WERE KIDS.
Maybe I wanted to see how far I could push.
I quickly realized that every action had a consequence…and it was a tough one. I was held accountable for every little thing I did.
Maybe that’s what we’re lacking now…accountability. Look, unless you have rose-colored glasses on, every child is going to make bad decisions. Every single one. And that is ok because that’s how we grow. But as their parents, it’s how we handle the aftermath…that’s the most important moment.
I tell my children all of the time: the first time you do it, it’s a mistake and you learn from it. If you made the same bad decision twice…then it’s a CHOICE.
My kids can roll their eyes at me all day long…every action will have a consequence.