Art from Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman
"You need a good talking to!" Well, that was the goal. What my kids often got instead was a bad talking to.
After I'd caught the kid in the act, I'd usually yell and scream, and (if I was pregnant) end the episode by bursting into tears. Dee would come home, hear my incident report and then immediately ground the kids for way too long. About then I'd realize I'd overstated the whole thing, feel bad, and get mad at Dee for blowing it all out of proportion, saddling me with grounded kids for the next month. This happened regularly.
Here's a discipline question from Kenju:
What would you say to a 13-year-old girl who lied to her parents about finishing a school project so she could go on a school trip to an amusement park? They had told her if she didn't finish the project, she couldn't go. What would you say to her or do to punish her?
I actually recognize this scenario from when I was the girl, and from when I was the mom. Some things never change. I won't pretend I had all the answers back then. But now I do. (It's much easier to be a mother without all those kids running around.)
Here's what I'd do in retrospect:
I'd call my daughter into a private place and serenely ask her to explain what she was thinking when she made this decision. I'd tell her how disappointed I was in her behavior, especially her lie, and that I had expected more of her. I'd try to compliment her on something "You're usually so reliable. I'm surprised you didn't think this through."
My best "chats" with my kids happened when I told them how I once did something similar (which I always had) and I understood that we all make poor choices, but that there are always consequences. Becoming accountable for our behavior is a sign of maturity. One consequence of lying is that people stop trusting you, and it takes extra effort to earn trust back once it is lost. It's an important lesson to learn and here's an opportunity to learn it.
I'd ask what consequence she thought would be logical and fair. If her answer seemed reasonable I'd agree to it. Otherwise I would say that I was going to take away some privileges, like going to the mall, or going with her friends after school, or something that would be a hardship for her, but easy for me to follow through on.
The great thing about parenting is that kids are so resilient. As long as one of us learns something, and we're quick to forgive, and quick to laugh, I don't think the mistakes matter much (theirs or ours.) Kids figure out very early that their parents don't know what they're doing. But they are gracious about letting us grow into our roles, when we're gracious about them growing into theirs. We just need to communicate our love. Actually, what everybody needs is a good talking to.