Eliciting Consequences

While strolling and listening to the following story, I requested the storyteller send it to me so that I could share it using her own words. For obvious reasons, the author of the letter requested anonymity.


After six years of using the Raise Responsibility System in our home, we had an amazing incident with our fifteen-and a-half-year-old son.

We live on a very large piece of property and my husband was preparing our son for driving by allowing him to drive the firewood truck from one area to another under his guidance and supervision. He would also allow him to move our vehicles around in the driveway. The expectation was always the same. This was a privilege and only possible when my husband was in the vehicle. One day while we were at work, my son decided to drive the car up and down the driveway. Of course, the neighbors reported this to us the moment we arrived home. We were very disappointed. My husband grounded him for two weeks.

My son came to me and said, “I thought we didn’t handle things this way anymore? Being grounded has nothing to do with what I did and I won’t learn anything from it. I think that I shouldn’t be allowed to get my learners permit on my birthday. I should have to wait an extra month. I was not responsible about driving and the consequence should be related to that.”

I told him that this was between him and his dad and that he would have to discuss it with him.

They both agreed that this was a more acceptable solution. His birthday was five months away. When his birthday arrived, he did not mention his learner’s permit. One month later he announced that it was time to go to the licensing office.

The best part of this story is that he assumed full responsibility for his behavior. We did not have to suffer through two weeks of grounding and he never drove the car again unattended.