Facing the music

Sam Brittenden refused to comment as he left Christchurch District Court this morning. He will...
The teenager refused to comment as he left Christchurch District Court. He will next appear in court on March 19. Photo: NZH
Last week, police arrested a 19-year-old for, at the time of writing, failing to assist with a search warrant, writes parenting columnist Ian Munro.

This was in relation to online threats in the lead up to the first anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attack.

All credit to this teenager’s father. Unlike many parents, he didn’t rush to his son’s defence, painting a picture of a kindly boy, an aspiring professional sportsman, who would do anything to help anybody.

When it became apparent that the teenager was probably a member of a far-right, white supremacist’ group, his father expressed his disappointment. He is reported as saying that he hadn’t brought his son up to be like that, adding that, although he had "stuffed up", he did have to support him.

There’s nothing wrong in standing by them as they face the consequences of their actions whatever their age, but we shouldn’t try to delude ourselves and others that they’re somehow also the victim.

When we become parents, we’re parents for life. Just as we might bask in the kudos achieved by All Black sons and Black Fern daughters, so we must take on the chin their less desirable achievements.

Some parents find it hard to let their children learn from consequences, but the earlier we do, the easier life will be for us and them in the long term.

Consequences should be straightforward; have meaning; bear some relationship to the event; follow soon after; always be reasonable and not humiliating; and be enforced consistently, otherwise most kids will gamble on getting away with it.

My list of suggested natural consequences:

•Late for the meal — they get it cold with no alternative until the next meal. A teenager might find it gone or in the fridge and have to deal with it and the dishes themselves.

•Late out of bed for school — let school consequences follow.

•Not wearing cycle helmet or late home with the car — bike or car out of use for a week.

•Thumping sister — take over one of sister’s chores for a couple of days.

•Skipping school — Friday night at home catching up on schoolwork.

•Chores not done — "family taxi" not available until done.

•Clothes not put out to wash — no clean clothes or wash them themselves.

•Overdue library book — they pay the fine.

•Forgot to give you the permission slip to sign — no school trip.

•Damage through carelessness — pay for half from pocket money in agreed instalments.

Stuck for an appropriate consequence? Ask them. They can be harder on themselves than we are.


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