“‘Think about the consequences.’”
That’s what my father said every time one of us walked out the front door.
First to my older brother, then to my older sister and when I got to 8th grade, those words were directed toward me.
My siblings and I heard it at least once a week.
“‘Think about the consequences,’” was, and still is, his mantra.
All these years later and a now parent myself, I understand why my parents were adamant that I think about the consequences.
They wanted to make sure we remembered that our actions affected others, whether we saw it at the time or not.
In an era when cyber-bullying is everywhere – blamed for the suicide of an 11-year-old, as well as the suicide of freshman at Rutgers who learned his sexual encounter was broadcast live online, I can’t help but ask myself if I am doing enough to teach my son that actions have consequences.
Talk to other parents, and this is the stuff of serious conversation.
We don’t want our kids to be bullied. At the same time, we don’t want our kids to become bullies.
“You’re not with your children 24/7. You can’t be,” points out Dr. Laura Saunders, a clinical psychologist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living and also a mother of two.
“So it’s most important to make sure you check in regularly with your children and recognize that there is some amount of teasing that goes on in childhood. It’s going to happen. We need to keep an eye out and recognize when it becomes excessive.”
“Empathy develops early on. We have to nurture that and at the same time help our kids develop problem-solving skills. You can do that by sharing your own experiences whenyou were a child and letting them come up with different ways you could react. Role playing, talking out even pretend issues, can help them when they face the real ones.”
I may have rolled my eyes when my father shouted his constant reminder. But to my parents’ credit, it stuck with me.
Our actions have consequences, and I hope that we’re doing enough to make sure our children know that.