Discipline:  Reopening Closed Matters

Most kids are tangential storytellers and getting the full, coherent story is sometimes akin to trying to untangle the lines from three separate fishing rods.  When they’re younger, it’s a result of simple inability to keep their facts and timelines straight but when they’re a bit older, it’s more likely shading, omission or outright lying to avoid consequences.  My general practice is to find out everything that I can, make the decision and then move on.  But is anything truly closed?

The particulars are unimportant to this article, but it’s sufficient to know that I thought that the matter was closed.  But at a recent event, I came to learn additional facts that put the incident in another light; certain information was omitted by the child in the course of the interrogation.  I was going to say "investigation" but interrogation is really closer to the truth of the moment.  The new facts were unbidden and came pouring from another person’s mouth and they were honestly horrified that they’d spilled beans.  This person was correct in their realization that this was damning information.  So, do I reopen the matter and a probable can of worms?  Or do I let it go and remember to dig a bit deeper the next time?  Fortunately, the incident didn’t involve any illegal activity or injury and in the great scheme, isn’t actually that big of a deal. 

My expectation is that when this child returns from a trip with Mom, there’ll be further discussion.  If for no other reason, I want the child to realize that there is no such thing as complete silence and that in the end, the parents will generally find out if they pay attention and follow-up.  I also anticipate that there will actually be discipline involved – the previous response was a discussion based upon the premise of a new situation with no real consequences – just to reinforce that it’s better to get the truth out there instead of covering it up.  We’ll also have a discussion about omission being as damaging as commission.

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