Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Natural Consequences

July 2013 brought a sad lesson to the Womack home. The teen Womack, while visiting her Grandmother, lost her 2 week old retainer. Newly freed teeth from the confines of braces were suddenly without the orthodontist's only "rule" - wear this retainer unless you are eating. She sent me a panicky text, knowing it was a big deal. I then called the orthodontist and found out that there was
nothing to be done on a Thursday afternoon when the patient was in Orange County. Further, they were closed on Friday and would not be able to see her until Monday. I explained that Meg was scheduled to be out of town for a week serving as a camp counselor. After conferral with the doctor, the decision was made - Monday appointment it was!

Unfortunately, going to camp late was not an option. Meg had to cancel her plans and miss the week of serving as a counselor. She was disappointed. But, in fairness, she wasn't angry. With the newly freed teeth, she had to have the retainer. Not going to camp was a natural consequence of her leaving it on a napkin in a restaurant. The nicest part, from a parent perspective, was that there was no need to talk it through or punish the behavior - she got it. Her actions had a direct consequence.

The last two weekends have brought a similar fate to some of our community. Some of our organizations have found the buses that are picking up and dropping off in Mission from registered
social events are being greeted by SDPD. The overnight parking lot has been filled with more than a few citations for Minor in Consumption/Minor in Possession as our members are travelled to and fro in a variety of costumes. These citations require an appearance in court and some significant financial cost. The response from our community has been interesting to watch.

This week alone, three different staff or student leaders have told me that they heard that I was calling SDPD to alert them to the bus locations and times. (Side note: Not true for anyone working at USD.) Several student leaders have been indignant that the police department were infringing upon their rights and demanded something be done about it. One idea has included having an attorney present. The chapter advisors group gathered this week and we discussed the citations issued over the past two weekends. After hearing it all, the response was that this was a natural consequence. If students choose to drink underage, it is a risk. It is illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21, and while we focus a lot of our energy on educating our members on responsible drinking, it is breaking the law. So, another lesson of natural consequences - if you chose to drink underage, you also have to find yourself in a place where if you get a citation you are disappointed, but not angry.

As you read and think through this, I would like to leave you with another Womack home truth... "Don't blame other people for your problems." Works for the teen, works for our community.

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