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He Screwed Up. . .We Still Let Him Go To The Dance

May 3, 2019

My son was struggling to obey the rules. He was respectful enough, but still had issues being where he was supposed to be and doing his jobs. So, it was surprising to him when we announced that we were going to let him attend prom.

His counslor was surprised too.

I’m not sure what to say. I know he was really looking forward to it, but he told me that based on some of these other things, he didn’t think he’d be allowed to go.


So. . . why is he allowed to go?

We let him go because we said we would. We often make contracts with our kids. We tell them what extra privileges they can earn, and what the requirements are to earn them. We generally write it down so there is no misunderstandings later. (There are always still misunderstandings later.)

Attendance at Prom was an extra privlege. The requirement was grades. He had to get his grades up to an agreed upon level. It was a struggle for him, but he did it. He even cleared a failing grade from the previous term.

But, he also had additional problems that cropped up, right? Am I not rewarding him for poor behavior? If he’s not following the rules, not doing his chores, not being where he said he’d be, shouldn’t those be corrected before he goes to a dance?


Part of the reason we write contracts with our kids is so that they start to learn, not only about contracts, but about keeping your word, being responsible, and most importantly, working for a reward.

I want my kids to understand that putting in hard work pays off. I just had a daughter graduate from the University of Utah today. She went back to school after having 4 kids to finish her degree. She understood the requirements and made the sacrifices to satisfy them.

The agreement with my son about his grades was pretty clear: get your grades up and you can go to the dance. As the parent, I could certainly change the conditions after the fact, but what message would I be sending? That the contract didn’t matter? That even if you do the work, someone can arbitrarily change the rules? Those are not the lessons I want him to absorb.

So, we’ll work with him on getting his room clean, and doing his chores, and checking in. Those are all important things for him to do.

But, we’ll also let him enjoy the reward for his hard work. And I will pray that he will learn well the lesson that hard work pays off.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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