(originally published May 26, 2010)
The other day I took a call on my radio program from a mother who was upset at her husband. The husband had told their 9-year-old son he was not allowed to watch TV for a 24-hour period as a consequence of his unacceptable behavior - in this case, leaving the TV on even though he was finished watching it and had left the room.
The husband had come home from work the previous day and almost immediately checked to see what channel the TV was set to – turns out it was tuned into a kid’s network, so he knew right away his son had disobeyed him and watched TV when his viewing was supposed to be restricted. The father sat down with the boy and they talked about honesty, integrity, and respect for parents.
The mother was incensed the father had "checked up" on the boy. I immediately responded by saying, "Well, that’s being a good parent!" I explained the father’s job is to take his boy and turn him into a man, and a responsible one at that. To do so, he had to use whatever was at his disposal to keep up with what the boy was doing, so he could continue to teach and lead his son into healthy, productive adulthood. I said the father did the right thing.
The mother did stop and say, "I hadn’t looked at it that way."
It seems like she spent a lot of time thinking about our exchange, and below are excerpts from an email I received from her shortly after:
…I was so nervous about my call that I didn't get to thank you for your clarity…. Because of you, I was very aware of my "feelings," and that they may not be a reason to respond to this situation [sic]. Recognizing this allowed me to spend all night digesting what happened without saying a word, even though my feelings were to be 'Mother Bear' and overreact to the situation. This led to me calling you for your perspective.
You pointed out to me my husband was being a good parent. You are so right. He truly wants my son to succeed and grow to be a responsible MAN. It brings tears to my eyes thinking how terrible this situation could have played out had I indulged my 'feelings.'
Your wisdom has saved yet another crazy, emotional woman and spared my wonderful husband of thinking his wife and girlfriend doesn't give him the respect and support he deserves.
While I can’t thank you enough, rest assured I plan to completely thank my husband tonight!