A few weeks ago my daughter lied to me. I’m sure she lied to me before, but this was the first time I caught her red-handed. What made it worse was that when I confronted her with the evidence, she still lied straight to my face. Finally she admitted to it. What she did wasn’t really that bad; what made me furious was fibbing to my face. The next week proved to be a trial for both of us. While she learned that lying is a betrayal of trust, I learned my lesson. I learned that she deserves a little more trust from me.
The girl is my younger of two children. Her older brother is quiet and shy while she is my firecracker. I used to wonder when they would realize that they are smarter than I, but that day has already passed. Despite this, I have to remember that I am in charge. It would be so easy to just ignore it (and I know many single parents have said that a million times). The problem is I care, and sometimes it’s bit too much. As for the girl, she needed to be punished. Still reeling from the betrayal, I had no clue what to do. Ground her? I had done that before for lesser infractions–no Kindle here, no computer there. What would be enough? One friend told me the story of a woman who, instead of punishing her daughter told her for a week that the family was going on a magnificent picnic. Finally the day came and nothing happened. The girl asked her mother about the picnic. The mother replied, “I lied.” Ouch.
Finally I decided to take all of her electronics away from her. No Kindle, no computer (except for schoolwork), no TV, no phone calls to her friends. The boy would watch her while I was away from the house. Just in case, I took her Kindle with me to work. If she had been alone in the house, I would have taken the laptop and TV remote as well. I told her she had to earn my trust by accepting responsibility and by doing her chores without complaint.
She accepted it. What she didn’t like was me harping on her about it. Her lie hurt me, but she was right. The girl took her lumps yet I made it worse. What kind of lesson is that? Being the lone adult means there’s no one else to rein you in, and it’s embarrassing when your kids have to do it for you.
The girl only complained once, when she couldn’t watch Dancing with the Stars. (Oh, please.) Finally it was over. She was thrilled but told me she understood why I did what I did. I discovered that once punishment is set it’s time to stop the guilt trip. It’s time to stop nagging her about the infraction. She’s a great kid. She taught me a great lesson. I’m lucky if this is the worst that ever happens. However, the girl’s only 11: my luck may run out soon.