Sundays With Family, Pt. 16

The Benefits of Internal Drama

It has been my experience that people don’t get it; they cannot have it both ways.

Since AJ was a much younger boy, people have often remarked (to both Kristy and myself) how well-behaved he is. They marvel at his politeness and responsiveness to redirection; they are also surprised at my firm, immediate and sometimes stern responses to his occasional behavioral missteps.

Sometimes they may lack the courage to speak, but find the guile to gaze in my direction with a look of disapproving consternation. “You should be a little easier on him…” others will say, but they do not understand: the boy who plays so nicely, is so sweet to his friends and listens to directions so well is (in part) the product of the parenting attitudes and techniques that they find so distressing.

One of those techniques has been to never let him know what a consequence may be until after he has made an error in judgement. I was reminded of this when reading Seth Godin’s blog entry earlier this week, in reference to the pictured sign here:

Instead of stating the fine, the signmaker states the range of the fine. At this point, it’s up to the observer to have a conversation with himself. “Well, maybe I’ll just get a $50 fine. Hmmm, why would that happen? With my luck, it’ll be the maximum… I’ll just park somewhere else.”

It’s not an announcement, it’s an invitation to a little internal drama.

I will always remember my mind grappling with similar choices as I grew up. There was, “Don’t do it or else…“, or the ever popular, “If you do that, you will lose…” I remember sometimes thinking very hard over the choices presented to me and weighing my options, certain of the results of my actions, whatever I may have chosen those actions to be.

AJ does not have such a luxury and he is never certain what may happen if he errs. Fortunate for me, I am confident that (for now) his mind conjures a consequence far greater than something that I may dole out on my own; I like it that way.

Sometimes, a little internal drama can be a good thing.

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