Dangers of the “Don’t-Use” Parenting Strategy

“Don’t-use” parenting works well on two of the three concerns that all parents share. It keeps our kids from self-destructive behavior and offers us a measure of peace.

It goes something like this:

  1. Your brother got a BB gun when he was 14
  2. He proceded to shoot out every piece of glass in your barn
  3. You’re not getting one. End of discussion

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Ahhh, but this can be short-sighted. The third concern we share is the future, when our children become “adults” with full freedom and responsibility for their discernment….or lack thereof.

My dad – a normally long-sighted parent – walked into the family room one evening and apparently my middle brother (it’s always the middle kid right?) was watching something dad disagreed with. Dad calmly walked to the TV, picked it up and walked onto the back deck, yanking the cord out of the socket as he went. Four steps and he was to the back railing where he dumped it overboard, a crash landing on the yard below. It sat there all winter.

The three of us boys are now in our 50’s. But we’ll fully admit that the problem of discernment didn’t get fixed that day. Merely a delay. In fact, a delay on steroids.

There’s the problem. You don’t just add “Discernment 201” at the local university for $500 per credit hour. That window is shut and the opportunity to learn within the loving/firm tension of good parenting is gone. The clock is expired. Game over.

Parenting within tension creates 1) an opportunity to “use” and 2) an opportunity to “abuse.” But what we’re after is 3) “discernment” (the joining of knowledge and experience). And this of course brings us to our current technological challenge.

Oh…..for the days of black ‘n white TV and the short-sighted option of dropping it off the back deck. Speaking of TV’s, maybe it’s time to review iParent.TV and choose your next “discernment experiment.”



One thought on “Dangers of the “Don’t-Use” Parenting Strategy

  1. ko says:

    super helpful reminder;
    that “tension” isn’t synonymous with failure;
    that extremes are to be avoided.
    makes me want to be more open with the
    “I don’t know what to do’s” of life;
    to invite my kids into the pausing, the processing.

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