The world moves too fast for my liking sometimes. Not that I can’t keep up, I can thank you very much, but more that I like having a second or two for analysis. At the office you have to be able to do both and in general I can do that too (though I prefer the analysis and reflection). At home when you are in parent mode I think taking a second for the analysis is essential, unless of course the house is on fire or someone is in some other kind of danger. Otherwise if you can think before you act or make a decision you should.

I was watching my favorite new guilty pleasure show Modern Family the other night and I was thoroughly amused by the father’s rash decision to cancel Christmas. It was a funny TV moment because people do that or something akin to that every day. Some of the off the wall things we decide to do as parents may not be as crazy as canceling one of the most significant holidays on the calendar, but sometimes they come close. How many people in the heat of the moment have taken away a child’s visit to grandma’s because the kid did something a little nutty? You hurt grandma in that one more than the kid, trust me. A few minutes of analysis and weighing the pros and cons can be valuable.

To be transparent the reason why I find the TV father situation so funny is because I can relate. Earlier this month I was on the brink of saying the same thing to my own son. There are few things a six year old can do to warrant the dismantling of the tree and the return of already-purchased gifts, but for some reason in the heat of the moment it seemed logical. Luckily I didn’t utter the words “no Christmas for you!” simply because I thought about the holiday for me and the wife, and how him being on punishment would be lousy. I also thought about him committing the same infraction in January and considered what my reaction would have been. I think it’s safe to assume that I would not have taken the next closest holiday which would be Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. Plus after you screw up a holiday there is pretty much no way to be consistent with any future punishments, unless it was a huge once in a lifetime punishment to fit a once in a lifetime crime. Again, a six year old probably can’d to anything substantial enough to warrant a once in a lifetime punishment.

The palm looked something like this.

The palm looked something like this.

I guess what I am getting at is parenting is not a hasty protocol. It requires thoughtfulness and intention. A bit of analysis and objectivity doesn’t hurt either. Punishments must make sense in reationship to infractions. I remember getting into trouble a lot when I was Dev’s age and half the time what I did didn’t fit what I got. For instance I once got a spanking and grounded with a 6pm bedtime (in the summer) for two weeks because I pushed a kid off of the baby palm tree my mother had just planted in our yard. In my head I was protecting my mother’s plant and thusly my home, in my dad’s head I was beating up some kid. I lived on a military base so as I look back the kid’s father may have out-ranked my dad and as a result he may have panicked. Or my dad could have just been in the heat of the moment and not thinking. Whatever it was for two weeks I listened to the same kid play with my brothers in the yard while I was in the bed. The sounds of kids laughing and the bright Florida sun burning though my window keeping me awake was torture.

I’m trying to make better decisions and more reasonable punishments. That’s why we are still having Christmas at my house!