When you were growing up and you did something wrong, did you feel like you could go to your parents and fess up? Or did you end up hiding your misdeeds from them?
It was always the latter for me because I was really “scared” of my dad. That’s not to say that I was always up to no good, but like any kid, I had my fair share of doing something I knew I shouldn’t.
But part of growing up and becoming a parent is trying to do things differently than when you were a kid. That’s why I would never want my kids to feel like they couldn’t come to me for any reason. That’s especially true if they really got themselves into trouble.
We all believe that open communication is key, right?
As parents, we talk about that all the time, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Most people claim to want to be able to talk openly, but they just don’t know how. That’s where this “Get Out of Jail Free” card comes into play.
A Communication System For the Family is Born
So, I came across this idea in a Child Behavior class I was taking for my nursing continuing education requirements and I thought it was a really good idea to implement with my own kids.
I had my daughter make up a bunch of “Get Out of Jail Free Cards” and put them into a jar. The instructions for this were that if they did something wrong, they could always grab a card to give to us. Then they could tell us what they did without “getting into trouble.”
Opening Communication Does Not Mean Forgive and Forget
Before you start thinking we’re just letting our kids get away with murder, there are a few things you should know about this system. The idea is not that we allow them to get away with things, but that they get used to being able to open up to us for anything.
It doesn’t mean we will allow them to abuse the system. If they’re repeating the same offense multiple times, then we will have to resort to plan B, which will probably be traditional disciplinary measures.
If we begin this communication process now when they do something minor, then the lines of communication will be open when they get older and get themselves into trouble that can be much greater.
This Method Has Been Used Before
This is actually very similar to something that started a few years ago with high school proms. Students agreed to let their parents know if they had been drinking so they could get a ride home. The idea wasn’t to condone student drinking. It was to prevent drunk driving. But the kids knew they wouldn’t be yelled at or “in trouble” if they called mom and dad to help them.
How The Cards Are Working in Our Home
So now, when we get a card, our kids have to tell us what happened, and the kids aren’t busted for it. Then we can discuss their actions and we talk through what they could have done instead. And we leave it at that. This way, our kids feel comfortable talking to us without worrying about getting in trouble and we can hope that this will continue on into their teen years.