Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Being Sent to Bed Without Dinner

I went through all kinds of punishments as a kid. My mother was a master of handing out punishments for the crappy things I did as a kid. The most difficult and most creative punishment that was meted out was an order to scrub the driveway with a toothbrush. Thankfully, I was never actually forced to scrub the driveway with a toothbrush, but the thought of kneeling on that hard pavement with toothbrush in hand didn’t really excite me.

Some other punishments I received on a pretty regular basis were being grounded from friends, grounded form TV, grounded from video games, and grounded from ice cream. Do you see the theme in there?  My mom was a strong advocate of grounding me from things (thankfully, she was gone a lot and I had worked out deals with my sisters so I could do all those things I was grounded from without my mom ever knowing).

My least favorite thing to be grounded from was dinner. Who grounds their kids from dinner? I’ve heard it on TV and I know all my friends had the same punishment a few times throughout their time as children and teenagers, but who comes up with sending their kids to bed without dinner? Talk about a tough punishment — especially for a growing boy like me who was in the middle of pounding several thousand calories per day just to maintain his skin and bones feature. Being grounded from dinner and sent straight to bed in my mind was practically a death sentence for me.

That punishment was only handed out once. I can still remember how miserable that night was.  It didn’t do anything to curb my behavior and I certainly didn’t feel any remorse for what I had done. In fact, I don’t even remember what I did to get that crappy punishment; I can only remember the anger it brought.  I was furious with my mother for sending me to bed without dinner. It made no sense. It had to be some sort of cruel and unusual punishment.

Fast forward about 22 years when Addie hadn’t yet returned from her friend’s house — something she had been told to do by a certain time and that certain time had passed about 45 minutes earlier. Addie’s failure to come home on time has been a thorn in our side for a while. The kid understands how the clock works and she knows the importance of why we need her home at certain times, but she just doesn’t care about getting home on time. In her mind it isn’t important and she doesn’t have to pay attention to the time. This attitude from Addie infuriates Casey and it frustrates me.

While Addie was off playing with friends pretending that time did not exist, Casey pulled out the ol’ mental wheel o’ punishment. She spun that mental wheel around and around and no matter what it landed on the punishment did not seem to fit the crime.  So Casey dipped into her little bag of punishments that we hadn’t ever used and pulled out the dreaded go to bed without dinner punishment. She told me of her plans to send Addie straight to her bed the second she walked through our front door, and I practically gasped in fear.

The anger that been embedded in my soul from my time being sent to bed without dinner came raging out from wherever it had been hidden and I frantically told Casey that she couldn’t send Addie to bed without dinner–it wasn’t humane.  Casey asked me why not and I told her how I had been sent to bed without dinner and that I hated the punishment with the heat of a thousand burning suns.  Casey cleverly responded with the question, “Well, did you ever do what you were sent to bed without dinner for again?” To which I responded, “YES!” Sending me to bed did nothing to fix my behavior and it wasn’t going to do anything to curb Addie’s behavior either.

Casey eventually agreed with me and we came up with a compromise and we sent Addie to bed right after she finished dinner. Do you ever send your kids to bed without dinner?

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