Many months ago, I was told a very disappointing story about an elementary student who brought a water gun to school. Another student had soaked this child with a water bottle the day before, and he brought the gun with the intent to retaliate in kind. Of course, the school with its “zero tolerance” for all weapons took the gun away once it was revealed and exacted a punishment. However, since it was a water gun and not a real one the principal decided not expel the child, but suspended him for ten days.
The parents of this child were furious. They cried, “Foul,” played the race card, contacting the NAACP, The Today Show, bending everyone and anyone’s ear with power to have this punishment removed. Eventually the school board capitulated, overturning the punishment within only a few short days.
The saddest part is these parents probably think they won a great victory, but all they did was teach their child the rules do not apply to them. Yes, it was just a water gun, but remember the admitted intent. The child brought the gun to retaliate against another student. Do you really think the child will fear the rules the next time someone offends them? They got away with it once, why not twice. And the next time, the gun might be real.
As a parent, I understand the underlying desire to protect and save our children. Yet, sometimes the best protection we can offer is allowing our children to feel the results of their choices. How else will they learn for themselves the boundaries of right and wrong?