The Power of Pain

January 31, 2019

Dear Families,

Discipline. A word charged with emotion. Opinion. Reaction. As parents, we work diligently to raise good humans. Humans filled with compassion. We encourage positive messages.

Remind them to be kind.

To be the change.

We strive to empower them to tell the truth. We hope and believe that they reach out to the lonely peer in the cafeteria. We envision them to be the one on the playground outlining the plan for world peace.

Somedays that is exactly what they are doing.

It’s not the somedays. It’s the other days.

It’s the days that your 3-year-old decides, despite your reminders and encouragement, to get out of her big girl bed just to see if you are really serious about the consequence you asserted you would give.

It’s the days when your first grader shares the tragic events of the previous night with his PE teacher. How he broke his arm and had surgery less than 12 hours ago. How he explained that, unfortunately, he won’t be able to participate in PE.

Minor detail. No cast. Flat. Out. Lie. Good Times.

It’s the days that find themselves seared in your brain.

Like Tuesday, February 9, 2010.

The day I made my way home after dropping Hunter and Maddy off at school. The day I received a notification on my phone that I had an email from Hunter’s teacher.

The day I opened the email at the next red light. I expected to learn that Hunter left his lunch box or homework folder at home. Again. I prepared to send my standard, “I’m sorry. I won’t be able to bring it to him.” reply. What I read resulted in a traffic violation that thankfully went unnoticed. I made an illegal U-turn and called my husband.

Nothing good follows the words, “Do you know what YOUR son did yesterday? Have you read the email we just received?” I proceeded to tell Paul not to bother. I would be happy to enlighten him.

As I made my way back to the school, I shared the account of Hunter’s behavior the previous day at school. Disrespect. Aggressive behavior. Comedian.

And not because he told knock-knock jokes.

As I navigated traffic, I made it very clear that I intended to recommend suspension for our son. To my surprise, Paul agreed fully. Thankfully, Hunter’s principal demonstrated rational behavior. While I believed we were raising the next career criminal, she saw Hunter. Really saw him.

I made my way into the office demanding to have Hunter pulled from class. I locked eyes with his principal between the slats of her half-opened blinds. She emerged from her office calm and steady. She sought to understand rather than judge. I proceeded to share the events as described in the email.

I concluded the retell with, “Now do you see why he needs to be suspended?” I realize now she must have had to restrain herself from hysterical laughter. She respectfully redirected me to calm and rational thought. She communicated that she appreciated my support for Mr. E. But she respectfully disagreed with my recommendation for suspension.

Hunter shines in the social. He loves people, embraces relationships, and thrives in groups. My polar opposite.

His consequence. He lost the privilege of participating in the Valentine’s Day Party. It crushed him.

But it changed him. It changed him because it touched his heart. It spoke to him from a place that mattered. The pain of that discipline resonates with him even today. He fights to this day for the underdog. He seeks to find the good in others. Even when he believes he has the worst teacher on the planet, he strives to find the positive in that teacher.

To this day, I believe that his consequence that day transformed his heart.

Stay tuned next week, as I share “Charlie Brown’s Teacher.”

In the meantime, explore the links at the bottom of this post. My hope is that as I share candidly over the next few weeks from my experience as a mom, you will find the freedom to embrace the challenges that you have in your journey as a parent. That you will see a pattern emerge as I share through story how our thinking preferences impact our relational capacity-both positively and negatively.

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley

Food for Thought: Emergenetics

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