Monday, July 25, 2011

Consequences - abusive or instructive?

The pain from inappropriate consequences can last a lifetime. Marge, a woman in her 60's, recalled an incident that happened when she was about 8-years-old.

Marge's chore was to wash the dishes. She was looking out the window, working away and trying to come up with ideas to make the chore a little more fun. A bottle of grape scented Crazy Foam was sitting along side the kitchen sink.

Marge had the perfect idea! She took a small dot of that wonderful smelling Crazy Foam on her dishcloth and used it to wash the next plate. Marge loved that grape scent wafting in the air. The dish washing task was much more delightful with Crazy Foam!

Marge's new found dishwashing happiness came to an abrupt end when her father entered the kitchen. According to him Crazy Foam was only supposed to be used in the bathtub. He made her stand on a kitchen chair with a mouth full of Crazy Foam while he yelled at her for how stupid she had been. His tirade lasted a long time; her mother stood in the doorway silently.

After she was finally allowed to leave, young Marge did some serious thinking about how she would protect herself and her younger siblings in the future. That day a crater opened up between Marge and her parents, one that was so wide it was never bridged.

Marge knew she didn't deserve to be treated that way.  Her father's consequence was abusive, not instructive.   Marge learned to do anything necessary to avoid the wrath of her father including lying.  This is not the lesson he wanted her to learn.

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