My young son comes home with a story, very excited. “Joe and Bob were in a fight today at school. Joe had been bugging Bob all week and today Bob turned around and shoved him. They both had to go to talk to the principal.”

I understand his excitement and interest. But I make sure to follow up with the questions. Did the teacher know Joe had been bugging Bob? Did you know? What kind of things was Joe doing exactly? Did anyone try to help when the bugging was occurring? Do you understand why they are both in trouble? What would have been a better choice?
We talk about it even though I might get the “Mom, you take all the fun out of a good story” look.

We talk about it because the story shifts as they get older.

When my older son comes home with a story it goes something like this:

“Jason and Lee were in a fight today at school. Jason had been sending Lee texts and saying stuff about him/her on facebook all week. Today, Lee picked up a chair and threw it at Jason’s head. They were both suspended and had to talk to the police.”

The stakes get higher as they get older, so — regardless of age — the talks are well worth the effort.

Maryfrances Palmisano
Former social worker and juvenile/criminal defense attorney
Instructor at JK Lee Black Belt Academy in Milwaukee, WI
Mother of three children