A Little Tough Love Goes a Long Way
Blast From the Past:
SOMETIMES, THE FOOL THING PROVES WORTH IT
Copyright 1987 John K. Rosemond
It was the summer of Eric’s 15th year. It was that time in life when boys get too big for their britches and feel compelled to do things to prove to themselves and others that they’re no longer boys.
Willie and I had gone off for the afternoon, giving the kids instructions to be home at 8 p.m., but Eric wasn’t. His sister didn’t know where he was.
We busied ourselves for an hour or so, then made a few phone calls. His friends didn’t know where he was, either. At 10 p.m., Willie began to panic. "Don’t worry," I said, "He’s just doing something he knows we’d disapprove of, and he’s having too much fun to stop."
"That’s very reassuring," she said.
At midnight, the phone rang. Willie answered. "Where are you? You what?! Here, talk to your father."
Eric told me he was at a friend’s with some other boys and had lost track of time because they’d been watching movies and eating popcorn and the friend’s parents had invited them all to spend the night and could he, huh, dad, please, huh? My crap detector went off.
"You were supposed to be home at 8, Eric."
"I know, dad, but I lost track of time."
I decided to gamble. "You’re also lying to me, Eric. Mr. and Mrs. So-and- So are out of town, aren’t they?"
"You’ve been drinking, haven’t you, Eric?"
"I guess I have to come home, right?"
"No, you can spend the night."
"Yes, Eric, you can. Here are your choices. You can spend the night and be on complete and total no-social-life-at-all restriction for a month – and may I remind you this is July? Or, I’ll come get you right now and we’ll never even discuss this little fiasco. What’ll it be?"
"Dad, I want to spend the night."
His answer didn’t surprise me at all. I figured the peer pressure would be too much for him.
"So be it! See you in the morning."
He came home the next morning, looking green behind the gills. He stayed on restriction the full month, which ended just before school started. During this time, not one of the "friends" he’d partied with – none of whom were likewise caught – called to ask how he was getting along.
Why did I do such a fool thing? Good question. I did such a fool thing because I believe my father was right when he said the most valuable lessons in life are learned the hard way. In other words, Eric wasn’t going to profit from this mistake unless I allowed him to make it. So, I did the "fool thing."
And Eric did indeed profit from this mistake.
1.) Sometimes one’s choices in life aren’t easy.
2.) When you dance, you must eventually pay the band.
3.) Drinking’s not what it’s cracked up to be.
4.) Giving in to peer pressure isn’t, in the long run, worth it.
I could have run straight over there and rescued him and punished him and accomplished little, if anything. Instead, I took a risk (not one I’d recommend for everyone, by the way). It paid off handsomely.
After Eric, now 18, reviewed this article for approval, I asked, "Do you think I handled that properly?"
"I haven’t done anything like that since, have I?" he replied.
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