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A Balcony View: It was time to get tough

September 07, 2010|By Gary Huerta

It's not easy being a parent. All too often parents get caught trying to be the hip, older friend of the child rather than the one who ultimately has to teach him or her the differences between right and wrong.

Take as an example this story of a fellow Glendale resident.

In early August, this fellow had sent his three children a letter, carefully defining and detailing their less-than-considerate behavior. The father, who sees his children every other weekend, had been reluctant to discipline them because he only saw them every other weekend.

As is the case with many divorced "weekend parents," the time to discipline constructively is often over-ruled by the strong desire to make the short amount of time as fun and conflict-free as possible. But a series of events had reached a boiling point within the father's house, and he could not abide by the general disrespect among other things. It was time for his children to know it.

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In his letter, the father cited different behavioral, age-appropriate issues with each child. He reminded them of the simple rules of conduct of his house and let them know, as a result of their actions, they were not going to be traveling with him to Catalina to attend a wedding.

This was an agonizing decision on his part. The trip was to be their first real vacation since the family was divided by divorce six years earlier. It was a milestone, marking the end of many years of turmoil. Even so, after consulting with his family and close circle of friends, it was agreed this measure of consequence for the children's actions was appropriate to restore order within his home.

That said, the father left the door open for each of his kids to make some kind of atonement or acknowledgement of their actions. If they did so, they would be allowed to go to Catalina.

He sent the letter to his children, who upon reading it, were upset and angry their Catalina adventure had been taken away as a disciplinary action. The son called and screamed expletives at his father. The two girls flatly refused to discuss the matter. There was no contact from any of his kids for a couple of days. And so, with equal amounts of resolve and heavy heart, the father went to Catalina without his children.

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