Open Letter to Consequences

Dear Consequences,


I am breaking up with you. We’ve had a long relationship, but our time together

is coming to an end. You no longer serve me, you no longer support me, and I am moving on.


I know, we started out strong. You were so compelling with your promises and evidence of changing behaviors. You were so straightforward and sensible, easy to formulate, convenient to implement. You were always there for me, ready to respond to any misdeed or undesirable action. You are clean-cut, linear, and two-dimensional; ideal for tracking and analyzing. We had some good times together, especially when I charted how effective you were. It seemed like we made a good team.


I trusted the people that introduced us. They had the best intentions, and even had science and research in their corner, but they had an outdated perspective and limited expectations. They assured me you were the perfect fit because studies demonstrated again and again your power. It’s true: you work so beautifully with mice, monkeys, and dogs. You excel at training animals, eliminating bad behaviors. But I don’t want my children, or any children, to be placed in the same category as animals. Training them to do this or stop that is not my goal. I want my children to learn love, kindness, respect, integrity. I want all children to be confident, resilient, compassionate. You interfere with my goals.


You are quite sneaky, and I see how you keep trying to infiltrate my family in my weak moments. You present yourself as the best solution to get the job done, right here, right now. But every time I let you back in I regret it. I regret the look on my children’s faces when they feel your sting. I regret the disappointment I feel when I use you as a quick fix. You are so enticing, but there’s even more work to be done to repair the damage you cause. I don’t need you anymore. I have a new plan that includes emotional regulation, empathy, and communication. Sure, it takes a little more thought and intention to dispense, but there’s no mess to clean up.

Not that it matters to you, but I’m getting really intimate with Connection, and we’re getting along fabulously. Connection doesn’t pit me against my children. Connection doesn’t make me more powerful than my children. Connection doesn’t ask me to ante up when my children push back harder. I’m sticking with Connection because it is stronger than you could ever be. It creates more power for everyone through the tighter bond we share. It opens a space for all of us to embrace mistakes and honesty. It fortifies our family as we define ourselves through our shared values. Connection gives us everything we need.


Perhaps I can invite you back when we get a puppy. I can even teach my children how to use you effectively, and they will be thrilled to see they can change that puppy’s behavior with the right command or treat. But make no mistake: my children may wield your power over their pet, but they will never yield to your power again.


Don’t worry, Consequences, there are still plenty of people out there who depend on you. Eventually you will be relegated back to where you belong: in science labs or in animal training. I don’t need you when life inherently offers enough challenges and natural outcomes as teachable moments for my children. I can rely on Connection to deal with life’s consequences. I don’t need you to make it any harder.


Good bye.



 

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