There’s a lot more Mama Drama rolled into this story, but I’ll give you the short version:
16yo daughter screwed up, I gave her a 2nd chance – with very clear stipulations attached.
16yo daughter plowed through stipulations and blew it again, I grounded her for 2 weeks.
Too bad, so sad. The end. Or was it?
Now, if this had been maybe even 6 months ago, I would know to expect the cold shoulder and silent treatment from my daughter for several days. And that’s exactly what I got the morning after the grounding, so I wasn’t surprised. I was, however, surprised by her change in attitude by the afternoon, and especially by the proposition she had for me.
She very maturely, very rationally proposed some compromises on her grounding, seeing that the two weeks included the Much Looked-Forward-To Spring Break. Rather than not being allowed to go out at all (which were the only terms I had for her grounding), she offered to trade Facebook and cell phone (two items I had not planned to take away from her), sign herself up for any chores or projects I needed her to complete, in exchange for just THREE specific dates in the next two weeks.
Before you cry “Sucker!” at my willingness to accept her terms, let me explain. It was clear that she had processed the events leading up to her grounding, and she was willing to talk about them at length during our conversation (rather than shut down, like she often does). She also revealed a very unexpected epiphany she had. She basically told us:
“Last night I kept thinking to myself, ‘How can I get back at them? How can I make them miserable for grounding me?’ But then I realized that whenever I try to do that, it just ends up making ME more miserable. I figured I could either stay a complete grouch, or I could fix my attitude, come and talk to you maturely, and try to figure out a solution that makes us all happy.”
Um….hello?! Who are you?! What have you done with my daughter?!
Was it any coincidence that I had been praying and fasting all day that my daughter’s heart might be touched with a more peaceful Spirit? The way she explained her change of heart was as if a voice literally interrupted her plans to dig deeper into anger, frustration, and rebellion, and told her that she had a choice to make about how she could feel and react to her circumstances.
I know plenty of parents who say they would never negotiate with their teenager, and I understand that. I was just too impressed with her change in attitude and commitment to make things better than to turn her away. Besides, I’m still getting what I want – a chance for her to slow things waaaaay down and think more about her actions – and I’m not opening the flood gates to total freedom (three dates in the next two weeks isn’t outrageous).
I really do feel my daughter’s heart was touched, and I’m grateful for that answer to my prayers. I hope that she’ll continue to receive those kinds of promptings in relation to life lessons, and to understand that attitude is everything and that a little honey goes a long way.