Which is more loving… parents filing suit or a coach suspending?

From the headlines, a contrast presents itself. One looks like love. The other tries to disguise itself as love.

First the disguise.

Out of “love,” parents in New York raced in to save their kids from consequences that threatened to  “[spoil] their chances of getting into college,” according to NPR. CNN reported:

About 300 teenagers are realizing they picked the wrong place to throw a wild party after breaking into a former NFL player’s second home and causing more than $20,000 in damage.

Brian Holloway, a former offensive tackle for the New England Patriots, was in Tampa, Florida, over Labor Day weekend when his son told him he was receiving tweets about a party at their home in Stephentown, New York, Holloway said.

“I thought it was a joke,” he told CNN on Thursday.

But Holloway soon realized there was an underage party at his home.

“I’m looking at these tweets and they’re saying, ‘I’m partying with the NFL.’ ‘I’ve never seen so much alcohol in my life’, ‘I can’t wake her up’, ‘Oh we’re being busted. We gotta hide. Get rid of all the drugs.’ ” he said.

When Mr. Holloway began to retweet (retweet – from the kids’ tweets!) pictures and names, parents raced in to cry fowl and threatened to sue Mr. Holloway for disparaging their kids reputations. It’s so hard to imagine. How can anyone look at this story and not be nauseated at every aspect. $20,000 worth of damage. Trespassing. Alcohol. Drugs. Teens. Does the word “illegal” mean anything to anyone?

Apparently not.

Of course not.

Why would it?

We do everything possible to spare kids of consequences. We do everything we can to make sure our kid fits in. Possibly even host “parties” or conveniently look the other way because we want our kids to be included … liked. Or we use an excuse along the lines of “kids will be kids.” Or, “I’d rather them try these things while their in our home.” Which – why are we assuming they need to try breaking the law in any venue – let alone our homes?! It puts fuel on a fire ignited by kids when they believe they’re invincible and deserve to live out loud. They believe the songs that say “we can’t stop… and we won’t stop”, gravitating to “blurred lines” and boundaries that have been shaded gray.

I’ve told the story before about an accomplished headmaster at one of the schools in our neighborhood. He decided to retire after a 30 year career of grooming kids to reach for the stars and to live out their potential. When I asked him why he was retiring, he surprised me by saying, “It’s not the kids. I’m tired of raising the parents.”

“You probably wouldn’t agree with me,” he told me. ” I believe in using corporal punishment to discipline a child.” He wasn’t talking about spanking. He was talking about making the punishment fit the crime. “Just last week I was informed that someone had taken a Sharpee marker and drawn all over the bathroom walls. Sure enough, a third grader had done just that. I invited the child to my office. We had a little chat. Then I told him he would be staying after school to receive his consequence. Naturally we called his parents to inform them of the infraction and pending discipline. So, after school that day, I introduced the young man to our janitor. He took the boy into the bathroom, showed him how to wash the walls, then how to paint the walls. Since the young man had ruined the walls, he had to fix them.”

The next day, the president of the school board was in this headmaster’s office, with the parents and the child. The Headmaster was reprimanded for his harsh treatment of the boy and was forced to apologize to the boy in front of this parents and the school board president. No wonder he resigned. What a travesty for the school and for that boy.

So why would we ever be surprised when a group of 300 teens in New York do the same thing to someone’s house and we watch in horror as parents race in to save. What a shame for those kids. What a shame for society.

It’s called consequences. They mold character.

Lest we be completely discouraged, notwithstanding the fact that we can take a stand against this approach in our own homes by letting our kids succeed and fail on their own, there’s some major love action taking place in Utah on a football team full of suspended players.

Taking a stand: Union High coach suspends entire football team in lesson about character

Matt Labrum believes football helps create great men.

And it is that belief and his passion for the game that led the Union High School head football coach and his staff to suspend all 80 players from the team because of off-field problems ranging from cyberbullying to skipping classes.

“We felt like everything was going in a direction that we didn’t want our young men going,” said Labrum, an alumnus of the program he’s coached for the past two years. “We felt like we needed to make a stand.”

So the coach and his staff gathered the team together after Friday night’s loss to Judge Memorial Catholic High School and told them he was concerned about some of the players’ actions and behavior off the field. He then instructed them all to turn in their jerseys and their equipment. There would be no football until they earned the privilege to play.

The incident that spurred the suspension centered on cyber-bullying from an on-line chat room that allows people to say whatever they want about someone else from behind a screen name. The school counselors knew it was someone on the football team. And the coach stepped in to handle it along with the kids’ overall lackadaisical attitude and disrespect to teachers displayed in skipping classes.

He cared for his athletes by expecting more from them rather than placating, pretending not to see or making excuses for them.

I guess the question for us … which one looks more loving? How are we doing in our own homes?

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

A couple party pics …

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 1.02.21 PMparty1

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 1.08.42 PM

Interestingly enough, Mr Holloway tried to love these kids by holding them accountable and providing an opportunity to simply clean up his property. No go from the families.

Contrast to:

Pics from Union football players earning their spot back on the team…

Union FB

Union FB 2

Union FB4

Union FB 5

Union Coach

Way to go, Coach!!

6 Comments

  1. I think we need to punish our children for their actions. And I believe that a punishment should equal the crime. Those parents who are suing are always going to be bailing their children out. My goal as a parent is to raise children who lead a successful life in a positive manner (and success does equate what their salaries will be). It is a real problem that children are not held accountable for their actions and this generation seems to have a self entitlement issue. And I believe too many are afraid to confront issues and rectify them. We all make mistakes and how we choose to fix them defines us no matter our age. Kudos to the coach and his players for stepping up and bettering themselves and their communities.

  2. I totally agree. When parents “save” their children from the natural consequences of their actions, we end up with citizens who have not learned to make this connection. There is not room for moral growth. One quibble from this English teacher to the poster–One cries “foul,” not “fowl.”

  3. Restorative justice – I love it! Thank you for this AmAzInG look at tough love vs. helicoptering. I see that you’re a recovering enabler yourself, so your wisdom carries a lot of weight with me. How will those party animals ever take care of our future when we’re gone if we don’t mentor, guide, educate, discipline, and love them while we’re here?

  4. As a parent and educator, I am sickened when I see parents bailing their kids out of any amount of trouble. Thank you for this article. You are right on. Consequences that we hold our children to for their wrongdoings build character, respect (which is fleeting nowadays), and independence. I too feel we are at a battle with parents and raising them to let go and realize this is a part of growing up. Was it not for them?

  5. Brad McCoy, (Colt McCoy’s dad) says we should be preparing our children for the path and not the path for our children. I agree. Any time, as parents, that we try to keep our kids from having consequences teaches them that they are above those consequences–that they are “entitled” to do what they want, when they want. I think that is closer to child abuse than any consequence they could receive.

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