Written on May 4, 2023 by Mayur Gudka

(Dad is in the study poring over some papers. Mom and son come into the room. Son is crying.)

Dad: What happened?

Mom: He failed his exam, so instead of showing us the paper, he forged your signature and returned it to the teacher. Teacher emailed me. That’s when I found out.

Son: I’m sorry. I’m sorry, okay?

Dad: You feel bad. I can understand that. Were you scared to come to us?

Son: Yes.

Dad: Did you think we’d yell at you?

Son: Yes.

Dad: So, instead of coming to us you signed my name on it, correct?

Son: Yes. But I’m sorry.

Dad: Okay. Thank you for saying that. I’m also very proud of you.

(Son with a surprised look on his face)

Son: Why?

Dad: Because you did something amazing here that many adults have trouble with too. First, you recognized there was a problem. Is that correct?

Son: Yes.

Dad: What was the problem that you recognized?

Son: I failed my test.

Dad: That’s right. The second thing I’m proud of you is once you recognized the problem, you thought of some solutions. Am I wrong to assume that?

Son: No, you’re right.

Dad: What solutions did you think of?

Son: I could have told you guys about the F, but then you would have simply been mad at me. So, instead of telling you guys, I just signed your name and returned the paper. I didn’t think the teacher would squeal on me.

Dad: Right. So, you had two possible solutions, and you apparently picked the wrong one.

Son: Yeah.

Dad: In the real world, this is called Risk assessment. You had two possible solutions, and you picked the one you thought was least risky. Clearly, that was the wrong solution.

Son: I guess so.

Dad: So, let’s figure out how to do better risk assessment so you can pick a good solution next time. Is that okay?

Son: Yeah. So, you’re not mad that I signed your name?

Dad: Getting mad at you isn’t going to solve the problem. You made a mistake, and it already happened. Punishing you will only make you hide other things from us. Rather, we can use this mistake as a family and learn how to make better future decisions so we can all live better lives. Agree?

Son: Yeah. So, when do I get to learn more about risk assessment?

Dad: Later. I have things to do right now.

Son: Okay.

(Son and Mom leave the room, and Dad goes back to doing his work.)