COMMENTARY 776.3: I’m Better Than That

Ron, a nine-year-old boy, was being raised by his mother who didn’t know how to cope with his uncontrollable temper. She knew he was angry that his father had abandoned him, and she tried professional counseling, but nothing seemed to work. So she sent Ron to spend the summer on his grandparents’ farm.

When he came home, he was a changed boy. His mom asked him what happened.

Ron told her that every time he got mad or said anything unkind, Grandpa made him go outside and hammer a big two-inch nail into a two-by-four. It was really hard, and he wasn’t allowed back until the nail was all the way in. After about 20 trips to the shed, he decided it was easier to control his temper than hammer in those long nails.

“Did you change because you hated the consequence so much?” she asked.

“Well, that was part of it,” he said. “After I’d nailed in all the nails and was behaving better, Grandma took me outside and made me pull them all out. That was even harder. When I was done, she gave me this note.”

He showed it to her, and this is what she read:

Pulling out nails is like saying you’re sorry – the holes still remain in the board. You can’t fix things by being sorry, but you can stop making new holes. Remember, every time you do something mean and nasty, you’re making a hole somewhere in someone. That’s what your Dad did to you. Please don’t do it to anyone else. You’re better than that.

“You know what, Mom?” Ron said. “Grandma was right. I am better than that.”

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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