When I graduated law school and landed my first job as a junior associate at a Long Island law firm (many moons ago), I worked for the real estate partner who had several unique perspectives on everything, including child rearing. If his kids forgot to do a chore, he would do it and charge them for it. I remember on one occasion, his poor son lost his birthday money for failing to clean up the dog poo. Still young and childless at the time, I was promptly horrified. What kind of parent would take a child’s birthday money just for failing to curb the dog???
Now, 12 years into parenthood, I am beginning to see the value in monetary penalties to get these kids to toe the line. Today, I had lunch with my mother-in-law at a local restaurant. We were chatting with the waitress and she shared some of her changed views in disciplining her teenage daughters. Sometimes, the girls miss the bus to school and then, invariably, ask their mom to drive them. With the price of gas over $4 per gallon, that ride costs money. So, she now charges them 6 bucks for the ride. It is still cheaper than taking a cab but it eats into their part-time salaries so next time, they think twice about hitting that snooze button.
Right after leaving the restaurant, I got a text from my son that he had detention after school and would need me to pick him up at 3:30pm instead of being able to take the bus. It got me to thinking about the amount of gas to and from Kellenberg and the inconvenience to not only myself, but his brother who needed to get his homework done. Round trip to Kellenberg – you kill an hour and the boys have music lessons tonight. Why should we be inconvenienced because he forgot to finish some of his homework? Well, I didn’t charge him money, but I made sure he understood what exactly he cost us and that he is going to make it up to his brother (oh and his brother will make sure he makes it up lol).
I think as children hit middle school and beyond, they need more concrete consequences for their actions and perhaps “backcharging” them might be one of the tools in the on-going parental battle with children to make smart choices and not to take their family members for granted.
What do you think? Have you employed any creative disciplinary actions? Would you charge your children for misdeeds?