Your 10 year old child phones you from school to tell you, “Mom, I forgot my lunch.” How would you respond to him?
Most mothers are quick responders. Naturally, mothers think with their hearts. They will rush to the kitchen, pick up the brown bag and drive to the school as fast as they can to deliver the lunch bag in time. Surely they don’t want to feel guilty about neglecting their young child. They are willing to do it every time their child forgets their lunch.
Other mothers may wish to take this opportunity to teach their child a lesson in responsibility. Responsibility involves holding the child accountable for their own behavior. They know the rule and they break it. You made your child aware of their responsibility of taking their lunch bag to the school and you also made them aware of the consequences. If they break the rule, thus, they should be held accountable. They will be forced to expand other options and creativity. They may borrow food from friends and/or teachers. They may go hungry. Either way, they will experience the pain of growth. There will be positive changes: they may never forget their lunch again. They have learned their lesson. In the future your child will show gratitude to you for making them responsible individuals.
By not delivering their lunch, you are making your child go through pain that hurts but does not harm. Hurt means that the child, perhaps because of discipline, feels sadness or wounded pride or the loss of something he likes. Harm means actual injury by wounding the person or through judgment or abandonment or denying their needs. Responsible parents know the difference between hurt and harm. Growth involves pain but not all pain produces growth.
In addition to the pain your child will endure, you are also inflicting pain on yourself. In order to continue with healthy parenting you must keep your pain separate from the pain of your child. Teach your children to become pain embracers not pain avoiders. It is your responsibility as a parent to prepare your children for life. Train them gradually to become responsible for the decisions they make, including taking their lunch to school.