Kids surprise us.
Sometimes they make us parents proud. Sometimes they disappoint us. Sometimes they do things that leave us ambivalent.
I’ll give you an example.
My son, Connor, got into a fight on the school playground two years ago when he was 9. He’d never been in a fight, and it had never occurred to me that he would.
So when his teacher emailed me the news at work, I was stunned and horrified. My son in a fight! He’s not that kind of kid! I’m not the kind of father that raises a fighting kid!
I read more of the email. Turns out, Connor was, well, kicking the other boy’s ass. He had him pinned on the ground and was pummeling him. The teachers had to pull him off the other boy.
Wow. I was upset, embarrassed – and a little proud of my son for winning the fight. Am I a redneck dad for feeling that way? I don’t know, but it was my honest reaction.
I talked to Connor immediately after school and told him I don’t approve of fights. Then I asked him for all the details. The other boy, and a second kid, were mocking Connor and calling him names, he said.
I never felt like I got the entire story. But I could tell Connor truly felt embarrassed and upset by what the other boys were saying. I realized I couldn’t really blame him for going after the kid. And I’m glad he won the fight.
Connor has since moved to another school. He’s never gotten into another fight. And he never sees the boy he fought.
But I’m sure the kid and others on the playground that day haven’t forgotten the incident. My son had one fight at that school – and he won. He retired undefeated. I feel confident he’ll never get in another fight. That’s just not Connor’s makeup.
But I remain proud of him for his one unexpected fight. He reacted spontaneously with at least some justification, and I wasn’t going to punish him.
Just don’t do it again, Connor
|THE TAKEAWAY: Sometimes we don’t have the “correct” parental response when our kids get in trouble.