5 Reasons Why Your Kid Should Spend the Night in Jail
When one of our kids experienced a night in jail, we did not panic, nor post bail right away. Over-served (drunk) and legal age (21), our kid, in a giddy-up-and-go taunt, slapped a patrol horse as it served and protected on the one of the most beautiful beaches in the world on July 4th. A felony—no different than striking a law enforcement officer—that Independence Day, our kid lost independence, and spent the night in jail.
1. Instant gratification for you and your child.
Once arrested, your child will immediately have the new experience of the inside of the jail cell (think camping with a roof). And right away, you get the reward of knowing that your kid has chosen (operative word) a new opportunity. Win-win!
2. You don’t have $500 in cash laying around.
When our kids act ridiculous—that’s their job, btw, when they are in their formative years. (Why do you think they call it formative? They’re still forming new behaviors and thoughts. Ridiculous and formative = the same thing.)—don’t be in a rush to post bail. And the banking institutions really help us parents out because you have a limit on ATM withdrawals, so it takes some time to get $500 bucks. This gives parents some value-added time to detail a repayment plan to you from junior for his or her bail fees, upcoming attorney fees, if applicable, as well as a consequence list (“You’re grounded for life”, no car for a year, cell phone gone) once back at home. Double bonus!
3. Uninterrupted time.
With no technology for distraction, junior has loads of time to contemplate his/her actions. The law enforcement system works well to keep you kid overnight so that your kid does all of the emotional heavy lifting on his or her own. Think of it as junior at an all-nighter study sesh at the school library. Jail is a great resource to have when you can’t swoop in for the immediate rescue. You don’t have to pester your kids about their faces buried in their mobile devices. Jail does it for you. Poof. Gone. A tech-free night; woo hoo!
4. Critical thinking at work.
In school, teachers grade your kids on this important quality, so it’s time to put it to work. The kid made the decision to go to jail. Curious kids test boundaries. In jail, they quickly understand, clearly, and exactly where the boundaries are. With a virtual controller in their sweaty hands, they’ve practiced for this moment for a gazillion hours playing in the alternate reality of World of Warcraft in search of quests. Now they have their real-time quest.
The human brain is hard-wired for survival, and your kids will resort to their own survival skills. Eventually they’ll decide they don’t want to hang out in jail in the future. Jail is a wonderful opportunity for kids—in real time—to figure sh*# out. All. By. Themselves.
5. Prevention, not detention.
DWYSYWD. Do What You Say You Will Do. This is the #1 most loving thing you can do for your kids. “If you find yourself in jail, don’t waste your one phone call on me.” When each of her four children reached the age of puberty, Poppy sat them down and explained that she would not lawyer-up if they were arrested. She said they’d be better off spending the night in jail, that it would be a more pleasant experience than coming home. Any decision contrary to this contract was their responsibility. This also included preventative measures: a detailed description of a code word to call or text—no questions asked when picked up, but rewarded for great decision-making—if they attended a party and illegal substances or inappropriate behavior occurred.
Even though it’s a cliché, there’s no better life lesson taught than at the school of hard knocks. We’ve taught today’s kids to embrace the experience. Parental words of advice usually do not stick as well as the experiential. Allow a night in jail as an alternative reality to influence them in a deeper and wiser way than we, as parents, can offer.