I leave for work before my youngest son catches the bus for school. His only responsibilities are to ensure he doesn't miss the bus, that the dogs are inside, and he locks the door as he leaves.
Until recently, he was the last to leave and the first to get home every day. But now that the school musical is over, my older two are home before my youngest. A few weeks agoI received a frantic phone call from my 17-year-old daughter. She got home around 2:30 p.m. and find our two dogs running around the unfenced yard, and the front door was unlocked.
Turns out my youngest had lost his key about a month or so ago and just didn't lock the house because he wouldn't be able to get back inside. I was livid! I made him spend his own money to make another key to the house, and he had extra chores to do as a punishment for his irresponsibility.
I have always placed an emphasis on my kids doing their absolute best, no matter the circumstances. This includes everything from doing their chores to their schoolwork. So, before Christmas, when this same child's grades started slipping, we sat down and had a talk about what was going on to cause his grades in two classes to drop from A's to one D and one F.
What I got from him was a lot of "I'm sorry," and "I'll fix it," and a few old-fashioned alligator tears. I told him he was grounded from the Internet until his grades came back up. When I checked his school's grades website I discovered that the drop in grades was due entirely to missing assignments. This prompted yet another discussion about responsibility. Although he seemed to listen and promised to change, I was skeptical.
Fast forward to midterm progress reports last month. The grades in these two classes were still much lower than grades he has received in the past. Again, there was a discussion. This time, it much more one-sided. His grounding was extended to include computers in general and all gaming systems.
That same week, my daughter came home to find the dogs outside again. I took the cable television out of his room, and told my son that if he was going to act like a little kid, I would have treat him like one, and he would have to be at his grandparents' house before and after school so someone could babysit him.
I get so mad at him over this lack of respect and responsibility that I am afraid he doesn't understand that I still love him more than life itself.
My question is this: How can I continue to discipline my children to teach them responsibility while still expressing how much I love them?