Sunday, March 8, 2009

Natural Consequences

One of the big stories in the news has been this woman in California named Nadya Suleman, who after already having 6 children, just delivered octuplets. All of her pregnancies were conceived via infertility treatments with no dad in sight. She has now gained a nickname in the media- The Octumom. If you haven't heard of her, you have been living in a cave somewhere in Kalamazoo. (I don't even know if Kalamazoo has caves). Anyway, this woman has been vilified in the news media. 
Every news station is covering this story and they have all made her into a monster. I realize that she does give everyone a lot to talk about with the 911 calls, the house going into foreclosure, her refusal of help, her arguments with her mother and the small fact that she now has 14 children, 8 of them newborns.  I also believe this woman has serious issues and I completely disagree with her decision. However, I can't help but have a little compassion for her. I know I am in the minority here.
You see, I believe in natural consequences. I use it a lot in my parenting. For example, if I tell my kids to bring a jacket or put a jacket on and they argue or fight me on it, I let it go. If they don't listen to me, the natural consequence is that they are cold and will learn to listen next time.   If they cause us to be late to school in the morning, I refuse to write a note. The natural consequence is that they have to go into the office and get a tardy slip to take to class. That scares the bejeebees out of them so they are ready to go on time. 
There is something scary about natural consequences once children start heading into the teen years. By this point, you want them to get that there are natural consequences that you cannot protect them from. For example, the natural consequence to drinking and driving or using drugs is serious damage to their lives and possibly death. The natural consequence to sex can be an unwanted pregnancy or an STD. You get what I am talking about- this is what our high school Traffic, Health and Guidance classes were all about. Do you remember those gory drunk driving films they showed us? NATURAL CONSEQUENCES. 
Natural consequences are scary even as we age. We eat too much or eat unhealthy food- natural consequence is we get fat. We exercise too little- natural consequence is we age faster and can't go very far without getting winded. We tell lies-  natural consequence is people don't trust us.  This is why I tell my kids the story of the boy who cried wolf- sometimes you really need people to trust and believe you. You scam a bunch of people out of their hard earned money (Madoff) and natural consequence-you go to jail. 
So what does this all have to do with the Octumom? Well, the way I see it, she has some serious natural consequences coming her way. Eight of them to be exact. Not that I don't think every child is a blessing, but even dealing with one newborn can be overwhelming. She also has to be dealing with some major hormonal upheaval in her body. And she already has six kids and no husband to help her. I cannot even fathom what this looks like in a home. I mean how do you feed them all, or take them all to the grocery store or go anywhere for that matter as a family? I just keep picturing all of those car seats. 
 So does she really need all of the media attention and criticism to make her realize that she made some really poor choices? I don't think so. I think she will be dealing with the natural consequences of her actions for a long time coming. My prayer is that her children will not have to suffer the consequences of her actions along with her. I hope she realizes that she does not have to try to be some supermom and prove everyone wrong because there is no way anyone could raise those children alone. You see, none of us can do it alone. But, if she doesn't, just know that the natural consequences will eventually get the best of her. They always do!

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