What Ever Happened to Common Sense?

jail letter

The week before Christmas, I wrote a letter to my oldest son.

Yes, an honest to goodness letter from days gone by!

Since he was spending the holiday in a county jail three hours from me, I wanted him to not feel forgotten. I wanted him to have something special to hold in his hands. And by reading my words over and over, I wanted him to reflect upon the changes that needed to be made in his life.

The down-to-earth approach made perfect sense to me.

My words were firm yet compassionate. In responding to his admission of drug addiction, I praised his honesty after years of denial. I also questioned his bad habit of befriending women who demanded “things” in exchange for a “relationship.” Every time they pulled him in the wrong direction.

At the last minute, I asked my three youngest sons to add their names below mine. Each penned a brief, uplifting message at the bottom on the type-written page.


My son never received the letter.


It finally came back to me in mid-January – opened and taped shut with a message on the envelope. “3rd party mail not permitted. Must write to each person separately. REFUSED

How ironic! After years of trying to emphasize the importance of family to my wayward son, someone in a position of authority deemed his adoptive brothers a third party.

Yes, rules matter – but denying that Christmas letter to my son was cold, especially when the heartfelt contents contained no hidden meaning.


Where was the common sense in that?


Sadly, I’ve seen similar reactions in the past.

Years ago I debated with one teacher about letting my son bring a water bottle to school. She wouldn’t budge. Even the doctor’s note wouldn’t suffice. With a new medication, he needed hydration to reduce side effects – mainly headaches that caused his concentration to go from slim to none.

Common sense eventually prevailed but only after two meetings. Each involved six people and wasted a huge amount of staff time. But that’s what it took to approve a water bottle for classroom use.


Where was the common sense in that?


Yet people can get it right. Just last week at the last minute, I had to reschedule back-to-back psychiatrist’s appointments for my youngest three sons – the ones we do every four weeks for medication management. Although three openings weren’t available, the receptionist didn’t hesitate.

“Bring all three and we’ll squeeze them in.”

After thanking her profusely, I thought to myself. Couldn’t all busy people – parents included – benefit from more common sense in their daily lives?

An act of kindness – with the right mix of flexibility – will always win more friends than an over-reach of authority. Who’s with me?   DCP


Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/EACH-Child-is-Special-Working-Smarter-Not-Harder-to-Raise-Every-ONE/132153890292369


To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adopting-Faith-A-Fathers-Unconditional-Love/297933993580946


To follow his son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/andrewpetersongoesforthegold

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