This is an old one, actually. I originally posted this illustration to my personal site back when my son was about three. People talk about the Terrible Two, but it was the Terrible Three for me. And excuse the videogame reference. I worked in that industry for a long time.
Anyways, I pulled it out because a recent news story from Japan caught my eye. It was a story about a seven-year old boy who was left in a bear-infested forest by his parents as a form of “discipline.” I know, the news cycle has been crazy lately, so I’ll give you a second to jog your memory. Yes, THAT story.
Thankfully, this story had a happy ending. The boy was found alive six days later in a hut owned by the Japanese Self-Defense Force. He began to walk after his father left him on the side of a deserted road for the second time (WTF?), and happened upon this hut, where he was safe from the bears and elements. Luck was on his side.
I had a very angry, visceral reaction to this story. Probably similar to your reactions. How could anyone leave their own child in a bear-infested forest just to “teach him a lesson”? What lesson would it teach? That adults, even parents, weren’t dependable? That parental love was conditional upon your good behavior?
But then again, I’m no perfect parent. It’s easy to imagine what must have unfolded that day. This boy’s parents had their buttons pushed too many times, and they threw a tantrum of their own…like…leaving a child on the side of the road. Twice.
It takes serious willpower and maturity to rein in emotions that are spinning out of control. Adulting is hard. Parenting is hard.
One thing that helps keep my emotions in check (besides therapy) is the idea of positive parenting, which is the guiding principle for our site. Anouck has written about it in her article Accentuate The Positive, Eliminate The Negative. It love it because I know that it works. And really, life is too short for negative emotion loop. May the 7-year old boy and his parents rebuild a loving, trusting relationship.