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Dave Says: Doing the Right Thing

Dave Says
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Dear Dave,

Our son is a senior in college. We all signed a contract before he left for school a few years ago stating that we would pay for school and provide him a car to drive as long as he maintained good grades and behaved in a respectful and mature manner. Over the last couple of years, his grades have dropped and he's been acting more and more disrespectful. We learned recently that he even told a family friend that he hated us. My husband went to confront him about his behavior and this statement, and our son admitted he said it and was unrepentant. My husband immediately took the car and cut off his cell phone, like we had agreed. But now, I just feel sick with worry. Did we do the right thing?

Carla

Dear Carla,

I'm sure you do feel sick inside. If you didn't feel that way to some extent, you'd be a terrible person. This is your child we're talking about. And even though he brought this on himself by being a twerp, and you guys are simply following through on the agreement, it hurts you because you're human — and a good mom.

It may seem extreme to some folks, but what you guys did wasn't capricious or arbitrary. There was a deal in place, and he knew the terms of the contract. If someone worked for me and did or said or tweeted the kind of stuff you're talking about, I'd fire them on the spot. This kid has got to learn how to behave in the culture and that there are consequences for breaking your word and violating contracts.

But here's some good news for you, Carla. You married a real man — a strong and loving man. What he did took a ton of strength and courage. There are so many wimps in our culture today, but you married a good one. And whether this kid realizes it or not, he's got one heck of a dad who really cares.

I'll give you a prediction. Within 30 days, your kid comes home wagging his tail behind him. Even if he's stubborn, being hungry and strapped for cash — along with losing his wheels — will solve a lot of that. From diapers until they're out of the house, and even after they're out of the house, you make a lot of those kinds of calls if you're a good parent.

—Dave
 
 

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