My son got into some trouble at school last week. It involved an inside joke among a large group of kids, but my son’s solo bad decision made it public. No one knew his part in it, and if the truth got out, he would most likely be ostracized by his peers. It took him two days to confess his actions to me, during which he was privately guilt-ridden and at a loss for what to do.
The next day, he met with the principal to disclose the extent of his involvement. Because he came forward, the principal independently made the decision to keep his role in the event private. While that solved the immediate problem for my son, my husband and I were still left reeling. Now we question his common sense (which we mistakenly thought he had) along with his ability to see future consequences of his actions.
The school has decided to use this as a teaching moment and have planned days of activities and lectures to help the kids involved understand the bigger picture of their actions. We are incredibly lucky he goes to a high school that is more interested in educating kids about being smarter human beings, rather than taking a more punitive approach. As adults, we all want them to think past the “now” and consider their actions before they do something stupid.
I only wish I could get similar instruction. The lessons he’s receiving now will hopefully help him down the road, but what about me? I’m not sure how to move forward. Do I punish him or is the guilt and shame he endured enough? When will I trust him again? How will I ever know if he “knows better?” I realize this is the first of many dumb things he will do over the next few years, and I wish I had a manual to follow to inform me on how to handle it. Welcome to parenthood, right?