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BONUS BOTD 2/25/17 "Forgiveness is Easier to Get Than Permission?" A DMK BONUS Production

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David M. Katz

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Marshall
FORGIVENESS IS EASIER TO GET THAN PERMISSION?
A DMK Production

Lynn is your son.  Lynn turns sixteen next Thursday and that event seems to have totally taken over his brain.  Lynn is excited to be getting his driver's license.  There is a party planned next Saturday with friends and family to celebrate this momentous occasion.

You adopted Lynn out of a physically abusive situation three years ago.  Lynn has been basically very well behaved and so it has been rare that he has been in trouble.  If correction were needed you used time outs and restrictive punishments.  Because of his history, you have been hesitant to spank Lynn even though his brothers are/were spanked.  

Lately Lynn seems to have finally settled in as a member of the family and has recently started calling you 'Dad' instead of addressing you by your first name.  With this new found comfort seems to have come more willingness on Lynn's part to test the rules.  Two months ago, Lynn and his brother were caught up in a situation where Lynn was driving without a license.  Luckily you were able to intervene and Lynn (and his brother) were grounded over a weekend. (You did rethink the consequence as you felt yo may have been too harsh considering the boys' honesty.)  Last month, Lynn was suspended from school over a confrontation with the principal over a planned student protest that ended up with Lynn dropping some curse words on the principal. Lynn received no additional punishment from you but he did have to serve the suspension.


LYNN - 15 (Less than a week before he turns 16)
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Matt is Lynn's best friend and the two are basically inseparable.  Matt is also a well-behaved boy and you are not aware of any serious trouble from Matt in the almost two years that he has been friends with your son.  Matt turned sixteen a month and a half ago and now has a driver's license and, with his father's help, was able to purchase an old but reliable car.  You and Matt's father are well acquainted. You do know that Matt was (is?) subject to spanking but his father says Matt was eleven when he got his last spanking. You know of at least one occasion where Matt was grounded for a weekend.

MATT - 16
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This brings us to last night, a Friday.  Lynn says he and Matt are going out.  Lynn says the plan is that Matt is giving him an early birthday treat and the boys are going to hang out at a local shopping center (it is a typical teen gathering spot on the weekends) then will "grab some food somewhere" and go see a movie  Lynn says they plan on seeing a late showing and so asks for a later curfew.  The plan is that Matt will "crash here" when they get home.  Matt says his father is allowing a later curfew which you are able to verify. You tell the boys to be in by 1:00am. (The normal weekend curfew for your kids is midnight.)

*A couple of notes.  It is legal for Matt to have one non-sibling passenger and so there is no issue for Lynn to be out riding with his friend.  The 'legal' curfew for minors in your community is midnight unless a parent has given permission otherwise.  This is never enforced unless there is some sort of problem.  Even if an officer were to question the boys, verbal confirmation from a parent would suffice.  That is all said to point out that neither boy is in violation of any law.

You think nothing more of the matter and the boys leave.  You go to bed as normal and around 1:30am you get a call from Matt's father.  Matt's father wanted you to know that Lynn was safe and that he had your son at his house.  Apparently the boys did not have the plans they said they had.  Instead Lynn and Matt went to a classmate's house who was having a small party.  Apparently there were about six boys gathered and they were eating pizza and junk food, listening to music and generally being teens. The problems were that there was no adult supervision as the host boy's parents were out of town and beer was involved. Matt's father says Matt called him a little before 1:00 to admit he had been drinking and didn't feel it was a good idea for him to drive. Matt asked permission to stay at the host boy's house but Matt's dad denied this and found out where the boys were and went and picked up both his son and Lynn.  Matt's father says Matt was very tipsy and that Lynn was obviously very drunk. Both boys had been put to bed to sleep it off. You offer to come get Lynn but Matt's father says he will deliver him in the morning and thinks it is best to leave drunk boys sleeping.

Lynn shows up with Matt's father at around 8:30 this morning.  Lynn is looking very embarrassed and scared.  You can also tell the boy is feeling the physical effects of being drunk.  Lynn heads off to the bathroom to shower and dress.  You talk with Matt's dad and thank him for taking care of your son.  You find out that Matt's dad plans to ground his son for the rest of the week but will allow him to come to Lynn's birthday celebration ("if you still plan on having it") and that, further, Matt's driving privileges will be taken for an additional week after he is released from being grounded. Matt's father does say he is glad that Matt called for a ride instead of trying to drive so that is why the driving restriction isn't for a longer period of time.

Lynn has a regular sitting job for a boy from your church and is supposed to report at the boy's house at 10:00.  You consider this Lynn's "job" and a commitment has already been made to the parents and so Lynn is allowed to go.  You drive Lynn to his sitting job and the trip is mostly quiet.  All Lynn is able to say is to mutter out, "I'm sorry" several times.  You do ask for an explanation and the best Lynn can offer is:  "We wanted to go and we knew you guys (referring to you and Matt's dad) would say no. We figured that you guys wouldn't find out. None of us planned on drinking that much." Lynn then offers another "I'm sorry." Lynn wants to know what is going to happen to him.  You need time to process everything and to think.  You do tell Lynn that there will be a serious response but that you all will discuss it when he gets home (around 6:00) that evening.

What will the results of your discussion with Lynn be?

*I have pretty much decided on what to do but I am curious if my plans are in line with the thinking of those here.


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jackson1


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Has Lynn been spanked before and do you think he thinks that this is a possibility for him?

David M. Katz

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Marshall
jackson1 wrote:Has Lynn been spanked before and do you think he thinks that this is a possibility for him?

He has not ever been spanked by me.  He was "spanked" by his bio-mother's live in boyfriend which was abusive and involved whipping the boy with an extension cord.  Lynn still has a scar on his upper leg from such a "spanking."

The history of abuse is what has made me hesitant.

It is a possibility and Lynn does understand the difference between a disciplinary spanking and abuse. Lynn knows that I do spank and has seen and heard of his brothers' and friends' spankings. He knows it is a possibility for him but is also aware of my reservations.


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jackson1


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I guess an important issue here is whether Lynn does understand that difference, if he doesn't then spanking would be off the table. However, since he's aware of his brothers and friends being disciplined with reasonable corporal punishment I'm assuming he does understand the difference.

I guess another important question would be, do you think Lynn thinks this behavior could/would earn a spanking if his brothers did what he has just done?

Jack

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I think I would write down what I plan to do, then write down what I would do to Nate or Jentzen in the same situation.

When Lynn gets home, I would sit down with him and ask him what he'd done wrong and why it was wrong.  Then I would ask him what he thinks we should do.

I think I basically agree with Matt's dad, and I would settle for that (one week grounded, and a one week delay in getting his license (or using it).  I think Lynn might need a little something extra, since he won't miss driving for two weeks.  I might suggest we activate the GPS on his phone for a while, so I can make sure he's gone where he claimed.

HOWEVER, considering the recent progress he's made in our relationship, and considering the timing (with him about to turn 16), I would be willing to substitute corporal punishment for the week without driving, if he's comfortable with the idea.

I basically agree with Matt's dad that you don't want to be too strict and discourage them from calling, but I also feel like he shouldn't be allowed to get away with it entirely - especially since he completely violated your trust. On the other hand, I would write down my basic ideas of what he deserves, so he would know how I was feeling and what I felt was comparable, whichever way he went.


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jackson1


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Assuming Lynn is aware of the difference between what he's been subjected to in the past and approriate disciplinary corporal punishment and knows that this behavior could/would mean a spanking if his brothers did the same then spanking is on the table

Unpacking what has happened.

On the negative side.

They both conspired and in a pre-meditated manner engaged in deception and told a lie since they knew permission would be withheld.
They both engaged in illegal activity, drinking alcohol.

On the positive side.

They did the responsible thing and did not drive under the influence of alcohol, this is a very big plus in their favor. They fessed up and came clean.

Still some serious misbehavior though.

If his brothers would be spanked for this, then spanking is an appropriate punishment and some grounding.

David M. Katz

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Marshall
jackson1 wrote:I guess an important issue here is whether Lynn does understand that difference, if he doesn't then spanking would be off the table. However, since  he's aware of his brothers and friends being disciplined with reasonable corporal punishment I'm assuming he does understand the difference.

I fully believe he is aware of the difference. I also fully believe he trusts me to be fair. I think the issue is not if he would understand and accept reasonable corporal punishment as I think he would. The issue is if I could bring myself to do it knowing his history.

jackson1 wrote:I guess another important question would be, do you think Lynn thinks this behavior could/would earn a spanking if his brothers did what he has just done?

Part of me thinks he is expecting it and there is even a part of me that thinks he wants it.

His brothers: Scott (now an adult) - I would have worn his butt out, Todd (now an adult) - spanking stopped working on him around age 14 and so he would be "in jail" (in house seclusion) for a good 3 or 4 days, Nathaniel (16) - I would wear his butt out, Jentzen (16 and not a real brother but close enough) I would wear his butt out. Then after whatever is listed they would be in for some term of being grounded.


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Jack

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David M. Katz wrote:Part of me thinks he is expecting it and there is even a part of me that thinks he wants it.

His brothers:  Scott (now an adult) - I would have worn his butt out, Todd (now an adult) - spanking stopped working on him around age 14 and so he would be "in jail" (in house seclusion) for a good 3 or 4 days, Nathaniel (16) - I would wear his butt out, Jentzen (16 and not a real brother but close enough) I would wear his butt out.  Then after whatever is listed they would be in for some term of being grounded.

Can you bring yourself to do it is an important question. If you can't do it in a way that would be fair to his brothers, then it's best to take it off the table.

However, the other question is - if he knows his brothers would get it, and he doesn't, how will he feel about it?


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jackson1


Wrangler
If you think he's expecting and will accept corporal punishment as an appropriate punishment and one that his brothers would receive then for the sake of consistent treatment then spanking is appropriate and deserved plus some grounding.

I think the talk before is important as well. I would definitely communicate your disappointment at the deliberate deception and lying involved but also make very clear how VERY relieved you are that there was no driving under the influence and all the potential life-ending/changing downstream consequences of that. Fessing up and coming clean does show some maturity and responsiblity here and that should be emphasized. There does need to be some serious consequences here for the other issues though. If his brothers would be spanked for it then if you can I would give him a spanking and some grounding. Maybe you could say since they showed some responsibility over not driving under the influence there will no restriction on driving etc.

AFinch

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Sherrif
Why do you think he expects/wants to be spanked?

I would think that if he's never had CP from you, this wouldn't be the time to start. I'm in agreement with Matt's dad (grounding, delay in obtaining license) unless there's some compelling reason (guilt relief/emotional catharsis/not feeling treated different than the rest of the family) to use CP now.

Jack

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Admin
I want to add one thing to my original answer - which, like Kier's, was basically the same as Matt's Dad: make him research the penalties for underage drinking. I don't imagine Tennessee is much different than Texas, and even if you're not driving, just a drunk minor can be in some pretty serious trouble.

The second thing I'm going to add is that, if he does expect CP, and if you don't feel like you're able to apply it, make sure you explain your reasoning to him, instead of just telling him 'no'. Your reasons may be all emotional, with no logic, but that's still valid, as long as he understands it.


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David M. Katz

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Marshall
AFinch wrote:Why do you think he expects/wants to be spanked?


I think he expects it just from having lived in this house for as long as he has.  He has seen how serious issues are handled.  

The "wants" part is less tangible.  It is more of a question on my side.  It is also very possible that it is a case of wanting reality to mirror fiction.  I think that it is my gut but this is the one thing that separates Lynn from the others - yes, with a good reason. Is the trope of "he needs it to feel a part of us" a reality? Lynn has also waited all of this time to decide to seriously misbehave - why?.


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db105

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Jack wrote:
When Lynn gets home, I would sit down with him and ask him what he'd done wrong and why it was wrong.  Then I would ask him what he thinks we should do.

I think I basically agree with Matt's dad, and I would settle for that (one week grounded, and a one week delay in getting his license (or using it).  I think Lynn might need a little something extra, since he won't miss driving for two weeks.  I might suggest we activate the GPS on his phone for a while, so I can make sure he's gone where he claimed.

HOWEVER, considering the recent progress he's made in our relationship, and considering the timing (with him about to turn 16), I would be willing to substitute corporal punishment for the week without driving, if he's comfortable with the idea.

I basically agree with Matt's dad that you don't want to be too strict and discourage them from calling, but I also feel like he shouldn't be allowed to get away with it entirely - especially since he completely violated your trust.  

This answer by Jack covers all I think about this. The boys have betrayed their fathers' confidence, but there was one decision that was by far the most important of the night, and there they made the right decision. A punishment is necessary, but I don't want to discourage them from doing the right thing by being harsh.

Matt's father seems to have reached a reasonable compromise, so I would go along those lines. However, if I think Lynn is emotionally ready to receive CP, and if he expects it because it's the family's standard response for serious misbehavior, I would give him the choice of getting that instead of the grounding. I will explain that, because of his background, he will always get the choice of an alternative punishment before being spanked.

Either way, he is still allowed to celebrate his birthday.

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squarecutter

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Sherrif
I think the result is that I am going to fall into line with Matts Dad. That will help with enforcement on both sides. Its right that Lynn should meet work commitments but he may have to wait a bit to get behind the wheel of a car and the next time the boys meet will be at Lynns birthday bash. Grounding will also mean impounding his phone for that period

David M. Katz

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Marshall
If there is anything good about all of this it is that Lynn and I ended up having a VERY LONG conversation last night.

All of the other kids had plans for the evening - either at work or going out and no one was going to be around for dinner except for Lynn and me. I picked Lynn up and was glad to see that he and his charge had a good day. I was worried Lynn would be distracted by the upcoming discussion but all seems to have gone well. Lynn and I agreed to pick up a box of fried chicken and take it home and talk.

We dispensed with the bird in short time and cleaned up what little mess we had made.

Lynn then asked, "We talking here or in my room?" (For those who had not heard, he has been able to move in to a room of his own as the nightmares seem to have left him.)

"Where will you be more comfortable?"

"I guess in my room; just in case someone comes in."

Lynn had a lot on his mind other than the events from the night before. We talked about everything from his mother to finding it hard to adjust to what was going on at school to his emotional/mental state (it is good) to how he doesn't want to play soccer to some really deep feelings about me and also what family means. Lynn has been able to dump a lot of garbage and feels like he finally belongs somewhere.

I wasn't sure what he meant when he said that maybe he had become "too comfortable" with us but I let him talk and then assured him he was loved and very much part of the family. He no longer has any desire to see his bio-mother (an issue we dealt with for a good year and a half) and he says he actually feels normal. That sort of led to a discussion about him being a popular kid at school and then we eventually began to talk about the elephant elephant that had brought us to be talking together.

I let Lynn lead the discussion. When the elephant finally poked its head out I did ask Lynn for an understanding of what all went wrong. Lynn was able to identify, without prompting, deceit, lying, loss of trust, drinking, and not being home when he said he would. (I let him pass on the curfew issue as he was with Matt's dad and the boys had given notice.)

Lynn is a popular boy (as is Matt by association) and these boys are other kids who are part of student government. They wanted to have a birthday party for Lynn (even though they are all invited next week) and the fact that the Junior Class VP's parents were going out of town and he was left with his 22 yo brother to "watch" him sort of lent itself to the events.

Lynn said he and Matt wanted to come clean about the gathering but they knew they wouldn't be allowed to go (they were correct) and they had already promised to attend. This seems to be a peer pressure / wanting to appear cool / remain popular sort of decision. The beer was an after thought and was actually suggested by the big brother. Beer had apparently been added to the festivities just in the past few days when big brother offered to help. Each boy made a contribution to the "beer kitty" and that was actually Matt's gift to Lynn that he paid Lynn's share of the beer tab. The boys felt trapped between saving face among peers and doing the right thing with parents. Lynn and I discussed some strategies (OK, lies) that could have helped him save face with his friends and avoid the "party." Lynn stressed that no one meant to drink as much as they did. The typical conversation about the law and underage drinking and our rules about alcohol, etc. ensued.

Lynn had an excellent understanding of what had gone wrong and why it was wrong and to his culpability in it all.

"So, Lynn, tell me what went right."

Blank stare. "Uh, nothing. The whole thing was a massive cluster f**k." (Don't get caught up on the language as I was willing to let it go unnoticed considering the conversation.)

I walked him through recognizing that they were going to be late and recognizing their impairment and not driving while impaired. Then in light of certain trouble, they did the right thing and reached out to a parent. I told Lynn that carried a lot of weight and that I was proud of them both for that decision.

By now we had been talking for almost two hours and Nathaniel came in from work. I heard N in the kitchen and then he came in to the bathroom that connects his and Lynn's room. Nathaniel saw Lynn and me and poked his head in to say hi and ask what was up.

"Your brother and I are just talking about stuff. I'll be out later. You need anything."

Nathaniel said he was fine and was going to eat and then go back out and find Jentzen. I know he saw Lynn's face and I am sure he felt the seriousness of the tone in the room. He looked at Lynn, "You OK?"

"I'm good. I'll tell you later."

We were then left alone again.

I will pause to say that I had planned to mirror Matt's punishment and that is to ground Lynn for a week (excepting birthday celebrations) and to not allow him to use his driver's license for an additional week.

Because of the appointment system that Tennessee uses, I would still need to let Lynn take his exam and get his license. To do otherwise would have put him well in to April to get his license and I felt that would be too harsh. So, he could get the license but would have to wait a week to use it.

After reading some of the responses here I did decide to put CP on the table as an alternative to one of the penalties (grounded or driving delay but not both.) I would have that discussion with Lynn and let him decide.


"So, how much trouble am I in? What's going to happen to me?" I know Lynn had been wanting those answers for almost a full day.

"This is big, Lynn. I want to remind you of what went right but, as you have said, a whole lot went wrong. Lynn, I would say this is the most trouble you have been in since you've been living with me." Lynn swallowed hard and nodded his head.

"What do you think is going to happen to you?"

"I guessed I was going to get a whuppin' and then probably get grounded big time too."

"Is that what you want to happen?"

"Uh, no! No one wants to get whupped or grounded. I want to just let this go and forget about it all."

"You do know I'm not going to let this pass, right?"

"Yeah, but you asked me what I wanted to happen."

Finally some light laughter.

I then laid out my original plan of being grounded with the additional delay of the driving privs. Lynn looked sad but nodded in understanding. I got no objection.

"But, Lynn, I have been thinking. I am willing to offer you some choice in this." I had his attention.

I discussed spanking and why I had never spanked him and how I felt about spanking him. I wanted to also know if he ever felt left out. Lynn understood and said he never felt left out as he understood. He said it added to his appreciation of everything I did for him that I was willing to deal with him differently. He then said, "but, if you were to do it . . .you know . . . whup me. It'd be ok and I'd understand."

"Do you want a paddling, Lynn?"

"Huh? What kind of question is that? No, I don't want a paddling."

"But, what if a paddling were done in place of either being grounded or not being allowed to drive? Here are three choices for you Lynn. We can let the punishment stand as I laid it out. You can take a paddling and not be grounded but you still won't be able to drive for a week after you get a license or you can accept being grounded and take a paddling and then be able to drive."

We decided on a bit of a compromise. Lynn accepted being grounded. He will think about (and I am sure talk to his brothers and friends) the offer to be spanked in lieu of losing driving privs. Lynn will let me know by Thursday morning what he wants to do. He understands how the spanking will go down. If he decides to do that then he will let me know and we will handle it that way. If he has not accepted a spanking by Thursday morning then we will go get the license as planned and the driving restriction stands and, at that point, the spanking offer is off of the table. (I hope if he decides on the paddle that he will do so before Thursday morning as I really do not want to give him an actual punishment spanking ON his birthday but it will be his choice.)

So he is grounded right now and will be through Friday night (since his party is on Saturday.) There is a family dinner and gift exchange on Thursday that will not be affected by being grounded. He is to only leave the house for church or school (he has no more sitting commitments.) He can have no friends over. He has no screen use with two exceptions: any verifiable computer use needed for school and I will not take his phone if he is not at home (church or school) as that is our only line of communication. (Yes, I know he is going to catch up on all of his screen stuff and social media during lunch and between classes but it is a sacrifice for today's society and, yes, I could have data and text removed from his phone but that is too much trouble for only 6 days.) When he is at home though, his phone lives with me as does his laptop and TV remote. Rides to and from church and school will be with a parent or by bus. No riding with siblings or friends. (I drove him to church this morning and Isaac's father drove him home. He will be getting on the big yellow bus for school this week.)While grounded his bed time is 9:30 pm. (Which he will probably welcome as a break from the boredom.) As I type this Lynn is in his room reading. He seems to be handling things well. He has told Nathaniel that he wants to talk to him when Nathaniel gets in from work this afternoon. I am certain I know what they will discuss.

I will update this thread once Lynn makes a decsion about paddling or loss of driving.


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Jack

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Thanks for keeping us in the loop, David.

I think it's good that Lynn understands why you've never used CP with him, and I think it's good that he has the choice to make. I kind of feel sorry for him that he has a chance to wait and make the decision, but it's probably better he have time to think about it, than that he rushes and regrets it.

One thing you might consider is, it wouldn't surprise me if he does chose to get paddled, so he can drive; but it also wouldn't surprise me if he does wait until Thursday morning, so he has privacy in case he doesn't take it well. If you really don't want to do it that morning, you might find another time the two of you will be alone and ask him what he's thinking about it.

Does Lynn know that his punishment and Matt's are the same? That could be a deciding factor for him, as fairness really is important to most teens.

Oh, and while I doubt this will be very important, since Lynn is your youngest, may I recommend 'would you prefer' to 'would you like'? It cuts down on the 'how stupid are you?' looks.


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David M. Katz

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Marshall
Jack wrote:
Does Lynn know that his punishment and Matt's are the same?  That could be a deciding factor for him, as fairness really is important to most teens.


Yes. They attend church together and I have to be sure it was all discussed this morning. I would also think Matt knows about Lynn's 'option' as they talk about everything but am not sure if he would have commented on it.

As neither boy has a phone right now then any discussion will take place face to face at school or church.


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db105

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Trailboss
Sounds like a constructive discussion, Dave, whatever he decides.

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Padraig

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Trailboss
I think you handled it well. Please keep us informed.

David M. Katz

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Marshall
At around 7:00 this evening I was channel surfing in my office/room.  Shelby was at work and Nathaniel had gone off with Jentzen.  Lynn was camped out in his room working on some school assignments.

I looked up and Lynn was standing in my door.

"Uh, yeah, I've decided I don't want to wait to start driving.  Can we do this while no one else is here?"

So, in a format that is familiar to most of us, we have:

Lynn Katz (15) - 1

I think he always knew what he was going to decide but he did want to talk to Nathaniel and probably with Matt again today at school.  I had already explained to Lynn how and how many. He was obviously scared and he expressed concern that he would "lose it."  I tried to reassure him that a lot of it was fear of the unknown and while, yes, it would hurt, it would be over quickly and, if he "lost" it, then that was normal and no one would need to know but the two of us.

I fetched the paddle and met him in his room.  We had agreed on ten on the bare.  I know that sounds heavy but I was not planning on swinging for the bleachers - I just wanted sting.  He did a good job of getting ready and bending at the end of his bed.  I say he did well.  He moved a couple of times and stood up once but, to his credit, he never lost it.  He was vocal about mid-way but never broke down and cried.  

He did want to be alone for a while after we were finished. He wasn't mad and he wasn't really overly upset.  I think he needed time to collect his thoughts.  Later he told me that it was bad but not as horrible as he imagined.

He was already in bed by the time the other kids got home.  What he tells them is his business but, to my knowledge, at least for tonight, no one but he and I know what happened.  I like the fact that he is in control of the information.  I am sure that the others will know but how that is shared will be on his terms.

We both survived.


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LLALVA

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Trailboss
Hugs David!

I am glad that you and Lynn survived I love you

Leti

Jack

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Admin
David M. Katz wrote:We had agreed on ten on the bare.  I know that sounds heavy but I was not planning on swinging for the bleachers - I just wanted sting.

Not really. There are so many variables in something like this. To be honest, your kids have been staying out of trouble for so long (or being grounded rather than paddled) that I don't even remember what you're paddle is like.

I don't really know what I would have done in this situation. If it had been any of my older boys, including Parker or Van (as hard as it is to think of Van as an 'older boy'), but maybe not Liam, I would have wanted it to do more than sting. I think sting does the main job, but I want the older boys to have enough thud that it'll linger for a little while. Of course, while Liam is just inexperienced (and hasn't been in much trouble), Lynn has his whole background. You're the one that knows the boy, so I'm going to guess that you did what you thought was fair to him.

Thanks for letting us know - I was pretty sure he'd come to this choice, and I'm glad he's going to get to start driving right away, and that he's got passed this milestone.


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