Ok, do not judge me. This is actually a fabulous example. First and foremost, I will admit, I am a Real Housewives of anywhere addict. It is true. I am particularly partial to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because I used to live in BH. Now you can judge me. However, the last two episodes had a serious tone that is quite close to my heart.
A Real Housewife’s child was arrested for DUI/OUI, whatever it is called in your state. I would like to give some props to how that mother said she handled it. First of all, it was devastating, according to how it was portrayed on the show. The mother was devastated and I bet she was. Who wouldn’t be? Second, she held her daughter responsible. They held her responsible and accountable for her actions.
I cannot emphasize that enough! Now, it is a reality TV show. With that said, this couple has all the money they need, they could have down played it or brushed over it on the show. But they did not. They owned it. They admitted what she did. They took her cell phone away for 21 days and made her pay for her own attorney fees. I know, I know, you are probably screaming at me right now because the child is from a wealthy family in Southern California and probably has a huge bank account. I get it. You may be right. But that is not the point. I bet your child has a cell phone. Even if your child does not have a huge bank account, they can work for one.
The point is not about the amount, it is about accountability. This “Real Housewife” saw what was avoided: a tragic accident. Her daughter got behind the wheel of a car while over the legal limit. The consequences could have been dire to another family and/or to theirs. The daughter was held accountable, not only in the privacy of their home, but in front of millions of viewers. If your child did that, could you imagine going on television and discussing it, truly?
Here is what I experience. I have hundreds of parents who will do anything to fix it. They will take out a second mortgage, to not have their child have a “record”. Here is my thing. Kids are kids. We can talk to them forever. We can teach them everything about right and wrong. Kids are people and they make mistakes. However, when they make a big one, a parent’s instant reaction is to protect. Just consider this, they were protected.
They made a mistake and by some amazing circumstance they were not that kid who hurt or killed anyone else and did not get killed. So, they have already been protected. Now, it is about accountability. It is a second chance to feel a much less severe consequence for their actions. Losing their cell phone and paying attorney fees, even if that means working a whole heck of a lot more, not so bad in my book.
And consequences go for everything. I have parents who worry about using a college fund for their child’s treatment. If your child needs to go to a drug or alcohol treatment center, get them there. Yolanda Foster, thanks for being so real, honest, and vulnerable!!
Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC
Life Coach & Author Sarah Stewart Consulting, LLC