Mom Tries Creative Punishment on Her Curfew-Breaking Kid Only to End Up Arrested

keep out signI was a pretty good kid growing up. I always listened to my parents and behaved at school. Still, I had my rebellious years. I sneaked out and missed curfew. What got me back in line was the misery of punishment. As a minor living in my parents’ house, there were rules and guidelines and I was meant to abide by them or suffer the consequences. That’s all a Georgia mom was trying to enforce, but she’s the one who ended up punished. Toni Folsom locked her 13-year-old son out of the family house after he missed curfew. Despite his efforts to get in, she stood her ground. The boy slept on the back porch, but not before calling the police on his mother and having her arrested.

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Folsom has reportedly been charged with misdemeanor deprivation of a child, yet her community says that doesn’t reflect her mothering style at all. People who know her, and her four children, agree that the 13-year-old boy needs harsh discipline at this point. According to reports, he’s run away from home, missed curfew and displayed generally disobedient behavior at home and at school. Yet, his mom is being punished for doing something to try to set him on the right path of respecting authority and obeying rules.

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In a time when a single mom like Toni or free-range parents like those in Maryland are being hounded by Child Protective Services, I wonder when outside authorities were given so much power to interfere in parental duties. No one knows these children better than their own parents. Would I want any 13-year-old wandering the streets at night locked out of his house? No. But an age and a circumstance are not enough to know whether this was the appropriate reaction. When you factor in reports of bullying and aggression at school, repeated calls to the police to find a runaway, cries for help to guide him back to reason? That’s a different story.

Should you let a 9-year-old walk to the playground alone? Ride the subway unattended? I can’t answer those questions without knowing your child. These are judgment calls that are a vital part of parenting, yet society seems to be saying local police or CPS should be involved. It doesn’t make sense.

Tough love isn’t fun. I’m sure Toni wasn’t excited that she had to listen to her son try to find his way inside the locked house, knowing she sealed every door and window. In fact, she reportedly told her 15-year-old she couldn’t breathe.

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But sometimes tough love is exactly what a situation requires and parents shouldn’t be afraid to stick to their guns. If you look at today’s parenting climate, you’d think there is no middle ground between giving our kids gold stars for simply showing up and publicly humiliating them on Facebook, making a normal part of adolescence a shameful and publicly derisive event. Setting boundaries and doing what’s necessary to enforce them isn’t the same as depriving your child, it’s helping them grow. It shouldn’t be something that could land you in jail.

Do you believe in tough love? How do you teach your children to abide by rules?

 

About the Author: Carinn Jade is a lawyer, yogi and freelance writer, but never at the same time. Her work has appeared in Brain, Child Magazine, The New York Times Motherlode, Mommyish, Moonfrye and DailyWorth. She also regularly neglects her blog, WelcomeToTheMotherhood.com and tweets @carinnjade.

 

Image via © iStock.com/StevePell

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