Lessons from time-out can be helpful to parents, too

By Megan Lacourrege

Megan Lacourrege

In many homes, I imagine, time-out is a much-dreaded punishment. Probably because it can be quite effective. Instead of socializing, playing and ultimately doing what they want to be doing, kids find themselves alone, without amusements, and all against their will.

To kids, time-out may seem unfair. To parents, the goals are probably clear: Give the child a chance to calm down, prevent them from hurting themselves and others and to reflect on what they did wrong.

As adults, it’s nice to be past those days of time-out, yet I feel like we can lose sight of our own moral accountability. Our kids may get repercussions for their sins in order for them to grow in virtue, but do we?

A spouse can provide some help in this regard. Maybe more effectively and compassionately than others, a spouse can see our own sins and address them. But we can’t deny the need of our own examination of conscience. And that is where the virtue of time-out can come in.

Do we provide ourselves a space that encourages reflection, without phones or TVs to distract us? Do we stop and give ourselves a chance to calm down when our tempers flare or do we act out of that anger? Do we sin, which hurts ourselves and others, and convince ourselves we did nothing wrong?

It is hard to look our shortcomings in the eye. It is hard to create a discipline of self-reflection. But in holding ourselves accountable like little children to a loving father, we may discover it is possible.

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