Good Discipline for Children or Else

Our family enjoyed a (mostly) relaxing Labor Day weekend spent camping, fishing and visiting with lots of family.  However, due to my own shortcomings, the trip ended on a bit of a sour note that reminded me of the importance of good listening (especially to my dear wife…who will likely read this at some point…did I mention she is beautiful?) and consistency when disciplining our children.

It all started innocently enough.  My son was enjoying some morning fishing time with his Grandpa, and he developed an affinity (okay, maybe borderline obsession) with the plastic “fishy” fishing lures in the tackle box he was supposed to be sitting on.  Don’t worry, these were without hooks so they were mostly safe if you discount their apparent addictive properties.

So, we have a four-year-old boy rapidly “collecting” small plastic fish of a truly alluring variety.  Well, at some point a limit was established and the little guy was mostly okay with his three new pets.  A bit later, he decided he needed just one more fish (or so I thought), a small piece of sparkly gold in his eyes.

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Listen to your wifeWhile I was enjoying a few moments of semi-peace in a nearby lawn chair, I overheard his (very dear) mother sternly telling the child that no more fish would removed from the tackle box.  No more fish!  I said no more!  If you can’t listen, you’ll just have to be in timeout.  And to timeout he went.  Fair enough, he deserved some discipline and needed to chill out.

Enter Daddy O’ The Doghouse

And here’s where Daddy gets his dog bone.  My son served his time in the penalty box with honor.  Upon discharge, he approached the forbidden box of tackle.  Ah, don’t worry Mama, Daddy’s got this situation under control.  What we need here is a grand solution, a win-win, a use of superior intellect to fool this child into believing he is getting his way while actually advancing the parental motives.  Brilliant!

In my best Daddy-knows-best voice, I tell the young man that he cannot have any additional fishing lures.  However, he may elect, if he so chooses, to trade in his three fish for the single sparkly fish of his heart’s great desire.  At this point, I can see a real role in world politics and peace-building in my future.  And the young, naive boy took the offer with zest!

The Great Negotiator?  Maybe Not.

A few moments later, I get “the look” as Mama has seen the new sparkly fish.  I can tell this is not a good reaction, but I am puzzled.  I have not added a fish to his collection.  No way, I’ve actually reduced the number of outstanding lures by two.  What could be the problem here?

I was sternly informed that the original argument was over the proposition the young boy had made to make a trade for a different fish.  At first, I think, “Wow, this kid is brilliant…a chip off the old block.”  Then I believe the color began to leave my face as I realized what I had done.

Parent skills should be rewardedWith a single act of not listening fully (and not asking later), I had contradicted my wife’s worthy parental discipline.  I had given our son exactly what he wanted after he had been disciplined for not taking no for an answer earlier.  This was clearly a bad move that served as a poor example of consistent parenting.  Ouch.  Bad Dad, Bad.

So, into the Doghouse of shame I was sent for most of the drive home from the campsite that morning.  And rightfully so, as I had made a fairly serious parenting mistake simply by not listening well.  To my wife’s credit, she threw me a bone and let it go pretty quickly.  Did I mention she is a great wife, smart and witty, gorgeous too…

Doghouse photo courtesy of ClicPhoto Studio; Tackle Box photo courtesy of jasonippolito; Dog Bone photo courtesy of ktylerconk


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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