If you read The Court of Family Law Intro, you have a pretty basic understanding of the background behind us getting to the point of thinking we need to discipline our child much differently than we normally do. If you haven’t read it, go ahead and catch up by reading that article first, then you’ll be ready for this next part.
Part One: The Penalty
I’m going to throw in a disclaimer here for those of you who may take this a little bit TOO seriously.
DISCLAIMER: We purposefully named this “Court of Family Law.” Notice the underlined word? We intentionally used the word “family” and put it in front of the word “law” to make clear one thing:
This is not a REAL session of court of any REAL law. The laws and procedures underwent during this experiment were for the sole jurisdiction of our home.
I insert this disclaimer for those who may realize that Chloe, who presides in the United States of America, wasn’t given the same rights as many other American citizens undergoing criminal investigation/litigation. An example would be that she did NOT have the right to an attorney. Little things like that and it not being explained beforehand that, although we are simulating court an jail in a lot of ways, there are other ways in which we are not, can cause some friction among certain readers. So when you come across something that really frosts your cookies, just remember, that we do live in America so I do what I want, M’kay?
Before we could even consider jail as an option for discipline, we needed to act like we were going to opt for it by planning as if. I basically went into detail with my husband what jail life was like for me. We took some of my experiences to create potential outcomes in court as well as “jail life” for Chloe. Here’s what that looked like:
- Write Court Summons
- Create script for “Court of Family Law” session
- Order orange jumpsuit for uniform (to be worn at all times within the proximity of home and directly outside of the house with the exception of replacing top with a white t-shirt – “cell” only)
- 5 days that Chloe attends school she will have cereal for breakfast, school lunch, and PB & J for dinner, with juice, milk, or water. Bread for snacks with the exception of the option to purchase other snacks.
- Weekend days that Chloe is home all day she will have cereal for breakfast, ham & cheese sandwiches for lunch and PB & J for dinner, with juice, milk, or water. Bread for snacks with the exception of the option to purchase other snacks.
- Showers only – 10 minutes and timed.
- “Cell”/Sleep space = laundry room (extra bedroom) with random inspections as the bed is to be made unless sleeping in it.
- Chloe will not be permitted to be anywhere other than her designated work space or sleep space without the permission of Daddy Thomas or myself.
- No electronics, period.
- Regular chores plus additional tasks that can only be given at the discretion of Daddy Thomas, Grandma or I.
- On weekends Chloe can opt for 1 hour of confined, supervised “yard” time (aka the deck)
- Chloe will be allowed to check out 1 book at a time to read during breaks and before lights out.
- During her incarceration she will be expected to write apology letters to the victim, his parents, and the bus driver and deliver them.
- Maximum penalty: 2 weeks incarceration without the possibility of earning Summer Camp attendance.
- Intended penalty (dependent upon results of the hearing): 1 week incarceration with the possibility of earning Summer Camp attendance.
- Any further infractions similar in nature and/or levity will result in her immediate disqualification of earning attendance at Summer Camp and may lead to further disciplinary action.
Part Two: Court
After we had decided that we were going to go through with incarcerating our daughter at home, we also decided we were going to have a little bit of fun with it. Unfortunately, I’m a little bit of an expert on how court stuff goes, so the first thing we needed to do was make a court summons. I only needed to recall the many summonses I have received over the years to conjure one up for Chloe. I just typed up a little something sounding like, “You are hereby summons to the Court of Family Law,” the crime she was being charged with and its maximum penalty. Here’s how that turned out:
We then ordered her orange scrubs online. There are many color choices for a jail uniform, but orange has to be the most ridiculous and obvious. When you see an orange jumpsuit you assume it’s a jail jumpsuit, am I right? I thought so.
Next was writing out a script for us to follow during the actual court session. The script was very useful for ensuring that we would stay on topic. Also, the atmosphere of court being in session held up a good bit longer than it probably would’ve had we not had one. We used a lot of lawful language, but would ask Chloe if she understood and explained to her what she didn’t until she did. (~$e Court of Family Law – Session 1 – the script)
This is vital, not only do we need to get her attention but she also needs to understand WHY we’re taking these drastic measures to get through to her. So as much as we’re having fun playing cop, judge, and jury, we need to stick to the program – finding a method of discipline that will teach our daughter about the consequences of negative and positive actions that also helps her to understand the levity of certain actions and/or their consequences.
Part of “sticking to the program” was to record the court session. We also filmed throughout the rest of the week/experiment. We wanted Chloe to be able to see herself, what she’s really like. We also figured that we would get a lot out of it by watching everything – not just about Chloe, but about ourselves and our parenting. I’ve only been able to get through some of the footage in preparation for editing and I must say – I am delighted that we have it on film. I actually wish we could have captured a lot more of the week than we did. I feel as though I’ve already gained a great deal of insight from the little I have gone over.
I should report that while I was watching some of the footage, Chloe walked in. When I told her I would like to sit down with her in the near future to watch it with her, she did not like the idea. She is not looking forward to watching herself under these circumstances. What’s funny is, she really enjoys pretending she’s doing “how to” YouTube videos – mostly makeup tutorials, and then going back and watching them. It would seem that she may already be painfully aware of the likely results of observing herself while incarcerated – why else would she be so hesitant to watch her cherubim essence flood our screens? So I’m thinking we did something quite right here.
Part Three: Review & Edit Footage
My next objective is to edit the footage. I’m not really sure what direction I’m going with it, yet. I have an extremely demented sense of humor, so consider this as your fair warning. In all seriousness, I will most likely keep it pretty raw, at least one version, for the true purpose of the experiment to be reflected. Another version may be released at another date. The later release should be expected to be taken totally out of context and possibly inappropriate (as far as parenting and the nature of this experiment are concerned).
Once editing is complete I may or may not post the final video. I honestly do not want to cause Chloe any real kind of irreversible psychological damage and even down to the filming aspect of this experiment, all was done with the intention of OUR FAMILY learning from it. I will do my best to edit it so that I CAN post it, and NOT cause emotional and/or mental harm to my daughter. At the very least, I will have photos and will write about our experiences. It has a lot to do with Chloe’s outlook on the idea of releasing the video into the coliseum of web warriors (aka the internet and its trolls) after watching the original and maybe even helping with the editing process.
Also during the review and editing phase, I will be taking notes that are focused on our behavior as a family unit, individuals, parents, etc. Again, the main intent is for our family to use this information, but if possible, I will share my findings with you all.
I will try to keep you updated on the progress of completing the video and the like.