Crime and Punishment


I was listening to some hockey moms topping one another with stories of horrible punishments handed out by their husbands to their misbehaving kids . . .

I wasn’t able to participate because I’ve never really punished my son in the way of grounding him or taking away privilieges.

Boy being punished by writing on blackboard after school

One time, I was very angry with him and I didn’t go to one of his rec league basketball games — the only activity of his that I’ve ever missed.

As a kid, I didn’t respond well to negative reinforcement — still don’t! — so I tend to avoid it in dealing with other people.

I think about bosses I’ve had in the workplace, some of whom showed great confidence in my ability and gave me opportunities to be successful, and others who felt that my own motivation was inadequate and needed to be supplemented with additional motivation from them, penalties when things went wrong, and so on.

I’ve always done much better with the first type of boss. If you trust me and you have confidence in me, I don’t want to let you down!

Maybe I’m being naive about this, but that’s the feeling I’m trying to instill in my kid. I can’t be there to punish him every minute, even if I wanted to.

When he has opportunities to do something that he shouldn’t be doing, I’d like him to think, “My dad would really be disappointed in me if I do this. He loves me, he trusts me, and I don’t want to let him down.”

Instead of, “My dad would kill me if he finds out about this.” Because that kind of thinking often just results in extra effort to make sure Dad doesn’t find out about it, even though the kid goes ahead and does it anyway . . .

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