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Subject: Effective Punishment Question: I woke at 12:30 am last night to find my 14 year old not in her room, the side door was unlocked and she had left the house with her cell phone. I called it several times and there was no answer.
I woke my husband who stayed behind while I drove the neighborhood. I passed several of her friends homes looking for anything unusual not wanting to wake anyone. The fear I felt was unexplainable.
After about 15 minutes of driving around she called me on my cell phone and said I had just passed her up, she was about 10 blocks from home.
She has been having some problems with the group of girls she hangs out with at school, one of them had a party last night and she was not invited yet they called her to tell her how much fun they were having. Her “boyfriend” went to the party so she was upset with him as well. She and I spoke about the situation before she went to sleep and I let her cry and told her she had a right to be hurt and confused. I also recommended that she do some thinking about why they are all mad at her and if she may have done something to upset them. She seemed better and we all went to sleep.
At 11pm she must have gotten another call on her cell phone from the boy friend after the party and “she broke up with him” She claimed another friend called and told her he was upset and had left the friend’s where he was spending the night on foot. She claim’s she was out looking for him. The really strange thing about this is that the friend’s house I picked her up from is out of town with another friend. None of it adds up and I am really concerned. I have always felt my daughter had a good head on her shoulders, with sound reasoning, now I wonder.
I have so many questions about how many times this may have happened that I’m not aware or what else have I not caught her doing. I’m hurt and confused. I also want to punish her effectively and I don’t think the usual no phone, computer or friend for a week will work on this one. I don’t want to over punish and I want her to know this type of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. She’s mad at me right now and does not seem very sorry.
I did take the cell phone away and told her not to call anyone until her father gets home from work and we all have a chance to talk about things. Please advise!
Answer: Dear Jan,
First of all I don’t believe there is an “effective punishment.” Punishment just breeds temporary compliance with hidden resentment, anger and rage. However I do believe in consequences for one’s actions. Ask her what her punishment should be, sometimes they can be harder on themselves than you would be. Another thing is to set down what you expect from her behaviorally.
Rather than taking the priveledges away from her it is much easier to allow a child to earn priviledges. Although from what you said about not particularly believing her story maybe it is time to have a heart to heart to find out what is really going on here. There are so many things she might be doing however, being out that late and not being worried about her own safety does not build confidence in you as a mother that she knows what she is doing making her choices.
Do you give her plenty of choices in her life? Not allow her to do whatever she pleases, what I mean is do you place two or more choices before her on a regular basis to help her build her decision making skills? I would explain to her that lying and not being where she is suppose to be will erode your trust in her and the relationship. She needs to earn her priviledges back slowly. Please feel free to request a follow up.
M Kay Keller