Thursday, January 17, 2008

The meanest mom in the world

Lezlie Patterson, a columnist in South Carolina has the story of a local mom who who carried through on a threat to her son if there was any alcohol at all in the car.
Hambleton became national news — and nationally admired by many parents — for following through with the consequences she promised her son if she ever found alcohol in his car.

She sold the car.

Actually, she went further than that.

According to a Yahoo news report, she placed this ad in The Des Moines Register: “OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don’t love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet.”
Cheers to Mrs. Hambleton! Like Patterson, I am full of admiration for a parent who makes a tough choice in order to teach her son an important lesson. She also taught him that he has a mother who means what she says. I don't see this so often now, but when I taught in middle school, I'd have conference after conference with parents who seemed mystified about what to do with a child who just refused to do his homework. They'd say that they'd done everything possible to punish their child by grounding him or taking the TV out of his bedroom. And then I'd hear the kid talking a couple of weeks later about some movie that he'd just seen or his visit to the state fair. Needless to say, he hadn't improved his efforts on homework, but his parents had just decided that he'd been punished enough. Perhaps it was too late to teach the kid a lesson. But I sure wished that those parents had taught their kids the lesson that they mean what they say when the kids were toddlers.

In parenting, just like in diplomacy, don't make a threat that you aren't willing to carry out. And, if necessary, carry it out.