Choices and Consequences

Over the past two weeks I’ve spoken with a number of individual students, small groups, class groups and even whole year levels about behaviour expectations and the consequences of behaviour choices. In many instances, follow-up conversations with parents and teachers have taken place.  Our student management expectations are clear and published openly in the Student Planner. We speak of them at the point of enrolment. Problem is that when girls break a rule they are then reluctant to fulfil the consequence and we hear the age-old line that the teacher(s) are “picking on them”.  Or it is everyone else’s fault but their own. But two wrongs can never make a right.

Understandably, children’s behaviour – their own or that of others- can be of great concern to parents. It is not uncommon for parents to become more stressed, upset or angry than the children involved, and when this happens, the situation tends to become even more complicated. Nevertheless, there is always much to be learned, by everyone involved, from such circumstances.

I share this story about Choice and Consequence with you:

“Five wise men got lost in the forest.

The first one said:

  • I will go left – my intuition tells me that.

The second said:

  • I will go right – there is a reason why right comes from the word righteousness.

The third one said:

  • I will go back – we came from there, it means I will go out from the forest.

The fourth one said:

  • I will go straight – we should move forward, the forest will end and something new will open.

The fifth said:

  • You are all wrong. There is a better solution. Wait for me.

He found the tallest tree and climbed into it. While he was above he saw where they should go to leave the forest faster. Now he could even see in what order the other wise men would reach the end of the forest. He climbed higher and saw the shortest way. He understood the problem and found the best solution! He knew that he did everything right. And the others were wrong. They were stubborn and they didn’t listen to him. He was the real Wise Man!

But he was wrong.

Everyone was right. The one who went left, found himself in the thicket. He had to starve and fight with wild animals. But he learned how to survive in the forest; he became part of the forest and could teach others the same.

The one who went right met thieves. They took everything from him and made him steal with them. But after some time, he had woken up something in those thieves that they had forgotten – humanity and compassion. The remorse was so strong in some of them that they also became wise men.

The one who went back made a pathway through the forest, which soon became a road for those who wanted to walk in the forest without being afraid of getting lost.

The one who went straight became a pioneer. He visited new places and opened wonderful new possibilities for people, amazing healing plants and magnificent animals.

The one who climbed into the tree became a specialist at finding shortcuts. People turned to him when they wanted to find the fastest way to deal with their problems, even if it didn’t lead to any great personal development.

This is how the five wise men reached their destiny. “

Briefly, this story illustrates a few of life’s realities. Stuff happens, decisions are made and certain consequences follow.  Some choices are seen as “right”; some as “wrong”. Values are placed on choices made. If it is avoidable, responsibility may be denied or excuses made or the blame shifted to others. Even when the consequence is unavoidable, bemoaning the outcome or calling it unfair can follow.  We learn little or nothing from the whole experience.

Children can be masters of this sort of self-deception. They are also pretty good at convincing parents that their version of events are true and accurate versions. This is not as outrageous as it sounds really. Children are like the rest of us. Who really wants to own up, tell the whole truth and potentially expose oneself to criticism and punishment and, what we believe, may be a lessening in the eyes of those we love? And yet this is exactly what is required in order to grow towards moral maturity and responsible adulthood.

It is the role of parents and teachers, then, to use wisdom and detachment to calmly get to the truth, have children own and take responsibility for their actions and accept the consequences that follow. It is our role to help them learn from their choices. That’s what childhood is about- learning and growing into caring, responsible maturity. Over-protecting and defending children in such circumstances does not honour or assist their journey.

In the story, we are shown that each wise man made a choice and suffered the consequence of that choice. The man who climbed the tree thought he was the wisest as he avoided the pitfalls that befell the others; however, it is not always those who pass trouble-free through childhood who are best prepared for what lies ahead. Each wise man was prepared to learn a valuable character lesson from his “mistake” and, accordingly, became stronger and better equipped for the future. They did not give in to despair, believe poorly of themselves or give up.

We believe that we should view mistakes made by children in the same way. Yes, we do all we can to teach children to make wise and appropriate choices but “stuff happens” and mistakes are made. That’s pretty normal. To give children the idea that perfection is expected – in one’s own children or in other people’s- is to set them up for failure and low self-esteem, to say the least. Here is a far more realistic message to give children:

“You are not perfect but you are capable, caring and resilient and we love you, mistakes and all. You will make mistakes but when you do, take responsibility for them bravely, make amends sincerely for the harm you’ve caused, learn your lesson well and move on with hope and confidence”.

In this way, good things can come, even when the road taken leads to thicket or thieves.

Prayer for Choices

Father God,

Life is made up of choices.

We choose to do something and in doing that we

automatically choose to leave something else undone.

There are so many demands on my time and talents.

I know I can make wise decisions if I allow you to guide me.

I do pray that your word will be my guiding light

and show me the path I need to take.


Debating Finalists

On Wednesday night, I was privileged to join a huge crowd of supporters of our Year 8 Debating team who made it to the finals. Regrettably, they didn’t win with the affirmative argument on the night (“That family values are what influence us the most”) and the boys from Marist College Penshurst won. Congratulations to all the students in the team: Annika Woodham, Ophelia Devcic, Eve Fernando, Justina Alabasinis and Valentina Triulcio (not pictured).


What parents should know about Instagram

It’s hard to keep up with all the social media platforms and apps our kids want to use. Instagram is currently one of the most popular social networks for school-aged children at the moment. It’s a free, photo and video sharing mobile application and social network for people aged 13 years and over. There’s no age-verification process though, so younger children can create an account pretty easily, sometimes without parents even knowing. Instagram say they’ll remove under-age users’ accounts if they are reported.

Instagram has just published “A Parent’s Guide to Instagram“, and it’s a great place to start if you want to know more about how it works and how it can be used safely.

The simplest way to stay informed is to ask your child what apps and social media they know about and ask them to show you how they work.

It’s a good, non-threatening approach because:

  • kids and teens find out about new apps, games and social networks long before we do
  • even less chatty teens tend to enjoy the chance to share their expertise
  • you’ll narrow your focus down to only those social networks and apps your kids use
  • it  opens up the conversation about social media tools and their social life in general
  • if you ask your child to show you how to “block” other users, “report” abuse,  “delete” their own posts and change their privacy settings, you’ll learn how it’s done but also know they’re able to use those  options if they need to.

The good news is we don’t have to be social media experts to keep our kids safe, but we do have to be good communicators and talk to them regularly about their social lives – both on and offline.

Hyperlink is

Community Prayers

  • For Mr Donlan and his family who recently lost their beloved mother, mother-in-law, Maria Fasullo.
  • We pray for a swift recovery for Lucienne (11) and Estelle’s (7) Pacifique’s brother (in Year 12 at St Mary’s Cathedral College) who has had a recent bone marrow transplant.



Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
Vicki Lavorato