My earliest childhood memory is not a happy one. I remember that I had been grounded for misbehaving. I don't recall exactly what I had done, but I do remember that my punishment was that I could no longer watch my beloved "Dragon Tales" for the rest of the week.
I was outraged. My three-year-old self had never been treated this way before, and I would not stand for this injustice. In revenge, I found my dad's church shoes and tied the laces in as many knots as my chubby fingers could manage.
Unfortunately, my "revenge" did not stop my parents from further ruining my life. As the years passed, I was grounded every time I hit my little brother. If I left to play with a friend before I had finished folding my laundry, I wasn't allowed to have friend time for a week. And if I didn't do my homework, I lost all television and computer privileges until my grades were up.
These consequences destroyed my childhood happiness. I wasn't free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. So if you're anything like my parents, here are three ways that grounding your children is destroying their lives, too:
1. Grounding ruins your child's social life
If your child can't go out to play with friends, how are they supposed to keep up their reputation? If you've grounded them, then they can't leave the house or play with their friends. They have a status to maintain, and you're cramping their style. Your kids could be ridiculed at school the next day for not being able to attend a party, or they could feel lonely and left out after missing a gathering. Of course, your kids could finish their chores and homework and then they would be allowed to play — but that's too high of a cost.
2. Grounding means you are a mean parent
You put your foot down, and that means that you stopped your child's fun. You dared to discipline your child, and they'll probably hold a grudge against you for a while. Why couldn't you just be nice and leave them alone? You're teaching them that you are consistent and that the things you say are to be taken seriously. so grounding makes you look especially mean when every other kid's parents seem to be more lenient about discipline than you are. This completely destroys your kids' happy illusions of being completely in charge of their own lives.
3. It means they have consequences for their actions
... and for kids, that's devastating. That means they can't just do whatever they want. And as a parent, there are a couple arguments you're bound to encounter with this lesson — the "It's a free country" argument and the "It's my life, so I get to choose what to do with it" excuse. And yes, they are free to choose their actions, but they are not free to choose the consequences — and that reality hurts. The blunt realization hits them that they have to be responsible; that their actions affect other people and will affect their lives down the road — which means that they actually have to consider the impact that their choices will have on their future. Being grounded teaches them about consequences of time, money and relationships. That totally ruins the fun of being a kid.
After seeing these consequences, hopefully you won't destroy your kids' lives the way my parents destroyed mine. If you do, your kids might learn lessons like prioritization and responsibility.
But once they grow up a bit, your kids just might thank you for ruining their lives all those years ago.