Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peer Pressure and Punishment

No child is immune to peer pressure.
~Kathi Hudson, Raising Kids God's Way

Yesterday, even though we prepared her for months about how to handle the situation, the Princess gave in to the questions about the missing rabbits and told one of her friends "we butchered them." We had told her to simply say they were gone and not disclose any other details. Now this particular girl is not one to keep a secret, is adopted, goes to public school, her mother is a vice principal of a high school, and her father left the ministry to become a U.S. Marshall. Another girl joined them, whose family homeschools, she is the youngest of eight, and they are vegetarian (mostly as they do eat chicken), and she cried for the Princess to tell the secret that the first girl was teasing her about not knowing. Both girls are a little younger than the Princess, but seem to have the upper hand in manipulating her.

Now I would not have a problem with the whole neighborhood knowing that we have rabbits but I would rather they did not know why (which will probably be known to all very soon now) because we live in a R2 zone where the county codes forbid "livestock." To be in compliance so there would be no concerns, the rabbits have to be hundreds of feet from the property lines. Basically, one must have at least five acres to comply: we have about a half acre. The county codes specifically names the types of livestock and rabbits are not in the list, but technically we are raising them as livestock—I suppose, although this is just to feed our own family—so this might be considered a violation of the codes. Now I have friends who have laying chickens in R2 zones, so I know it usually is not a problem unless one gets a complaining neighbor and we were trying to avoid that.

The rabbits are under our back deck and hidden from view, plus the rabbits are caged and quiet. It is not like we have a large "livestock" operation here. We currently have three breeding does and one buck and a kindle of around ten at any given time in six cages. We keep things clean so that odors are not bothersome. We use the bunnies berries in our gardens—I have to say here that I have never had such healthy tomato plants since we have lived here! The rabbits are not running around in the yard...well, one did get out this week because the Princess forgot to latch the door properly but came right to me and was placed back in the cage. We decided to keep her as a breeder for the California buck we shall be getting soon, as our goal was to crossbreed New Zealands with Californians, but we could not find a breeder with Californians at the time.

Anyway, whatever comes of this, the Princess will receive punishment today for disobeying us. She has been feeling a great deal of peer pressure since she began playing with both these girls, one a bit more than the other, and we do not want her to lie, but we do want her to learn that she still needs to obey us and that not telling everything about private matters is not lying. Obviously, we also do not want her to lie, but to learn to discriminate and that is a hard learning process with a honest child. She picked up a book for teens at a consignment sale a few weeks ago and identified—on her own!—that these girls were using peer pressure and how to resist it, but it still is not something one just gets without some stumbling blocks along the way.

I explained to her that homeschooling was considered illegal in some states at one time and that some parents were jailed for teaching their own children, but they believed that what they were doing was not only legal, but they felt called by God to homeschool. We felt the same about raising the rabbits, that the law was not well defined, and we prayed about it and believe raising rabbits would be acceptable. (Maybe God's blessing of it might be tested?) I also asked her what she would do if someone wanted to know where her friend was but was planning to hurt her. The Princess said she would probably lie and I reminded her that saying nothing at all would be one way not to tell where her friend was and it was not lying either, which is against God's will. I explained that sometimes we give her specific instructions because it will protect her or others without going into details about the how and why at the time.

I was concerned because she was less eager to obey us than accommodate her friends. I know this happens with children and usually at younger ages when they spend less time with their parents and more with peers due to work, daycare, or school, but it was never so pronounced as yesterday that there is a tug of war going on in this child. She is more independent, which means she will make more decisions on her own and consequently more mistakes. She wants to please her friends and be liked. She also wants to please her parents but there are also more demands on her from us because she is able to take more responsibility. She should want to please God the most and it was discussed that disobeying parents is like betraying their trust, as the one girl betrayed her trust in telling the other that she had a secret, and when she betrays us, she also betrays God who told us all to obey our parents.

Her father is currently in a neighboring state and hopes to be back later today, but we discussed the appropriate punishment last night. The Princess understands the gravity of what she has done and that once a secret is told, it is no longer a secret nor can it be pulled back. We decided that neatly writing "I will ask my parents when in doubt" on two sheets of paper will do this time.

~ My Lord, this is the beginning of the time I like best in children, when they are beginning to take responsibility for themselves and gain independence and making decisions about who they going to be. Give me wisdom to temper her growing independence with the realization of her still needing dependency on us as her parents and on You her Eternal Lord. Guide her to make better decisions and may her stumbles be small ones. ~

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.