Discipline is never easy whether it's at home or at school.
Below you will find a wonderful article written by an administrator serving at an international Christian school in Japan. When I received this months ago, I reached out to her and asked if I could share this with our school community. I didn't know when I would need it, but I thought she expressed great wisdom with her words. She has graciously given me permission to share her article with you.
The Tale of Four Families
Once upon a time, there were four young men from four nice families. These teenagers were ordinary guys -- they were testing limits, looking for a little excitement, but not hardened criminals. One fine day, as they were leaving school, they saw a motorcycle parked along the street leading toward the train station. It looked out of place parked there, just inviting a little mischief. Little did they know that the motorcycle belonged to someone connected to their school, in fact, to the husband of a teacher. To them, it appeared that the bike was an easy target on which to practice mischief of one kind and another; it was just begging to be vandalized.
So far, the story is much like many days in the life of an international high school, but the developing action of the plot builds in the way each young man and each nice family responded.
The high school principal and the guidance counselor invited the perpetrators and their parents to come to school. They planned to have the families meet with the owner of the motorcycle with the hopes that the boys would learn a valuable lesson about actions and consequences.
With their parents' guidance, both of these boys offered to work to repay the damages, and later they performed "community service" through doing landscaping for the owner. The motorcycle had been damaged beyond repair, but its owner saw the value in offering the gift of hard work to these boys, even if it could not possibly compensate for the loss of property. You see, someone had offered him the same gift in his youth, and he knew the value of remorse and restitution.
But there were two other families involved. These other parents asked the question, "What was the motorcycle doing there, anyway?" They asked, "Was it really so bad? It was an old motorcycle after all." They argued, bargained, blamed others -- even themselves -- and tried to manipulate the system. They wanted to protect their sons at all costs and prevent any pain from entering their lives, even the pain caused by their own bad decisions.
Obviously the motorcycle incident was not the sole determination of the direction their lives would take, but it gives a hint as to how their parents dealt with the challenges their sons faced then and would continue to face.
As a parent, I know the anguish of wanting to protect my children from any pain, discomfort, or tough lessons. There are certainly times when I needed to be their advocate, but I have also seen the strong and determined adults they have become through having to learn and grow through consequences, and even through the challenges arising through the chances of life.
Grace will always win in the end, but as Anne Lamott so eloquently wrote, "I do not understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us." Sometimes grace is not taking the easy way out, but rather the tough love that is willing to take the hard way through, and to help our children and students further along in their journey than the place they were before.
Head of School
Partnering with parents to build within their children a firm foundation of academic excellence and Christian discipleship.