Sometimes life is ironic. Today is one of those days. Writing this blog has been a long time goal, but like many goals, I didn’t realize how much work it would entail. Writing is fairly easy for me, but coming up with ideas about what to write….that’s a whole different ball game! I now keep a running list as ideas come to me (they usually do when I am in public watching parents with their kids). I take that list and put the title in my drafts with a picture or quote that will help remind me where I was planning to go with the topic. So….. this topic has been sitting in my drafts for about 5 weeks. The funny thing- I am writing about how choices affect your life on the day our president is facing Impeachment. Huh. I guess we get to see how choices affect people around us every day!
Challenges, decisions, choices….. how did we get here and how can we use this in our parenting? The fact is our lives are a summation of our choices. Some may want to argue this point, saying we didn’t choose to have some of the issues we have, but along the way, we made a choice that put the issue in our path. The true question is- can we teach this concept to our children? Of course we can! It’s called taking responsibility.
When children are very small, it is our job to keep them safe and protected. Some of us forget that as our kids grow up, they need learn to face the consequences of those choices. I believe these parents are termed “helicopter” parents. You will find them buzzing around their children’s life at every age providing them with excuses and blaming anyone else for any poor choices their kids make. This is a mistake.
People need to face up to their mistakes. Children included. Haven’t you heard, “Experience is the best teacher”? We remember the mistakes we made more often and more deeply that the perfect decision made at the exact correct moment. Why is that? We have a bigger lesson to learn from mistakes. Don’t be afraid to allow your children to goof up once in awhile.
I remember having this discussion with my husband years ago as our first born was a stereotypical first born -people pleaser who always wanted to do everything “right”. He had reached the ripe age of 14 or 15 and I said to my husband, “We really need him to make a big mistake while he is still at home and we can help him learn that he will recover from it.” My husband looked at me with a bit of horror in his eyes and then realized what I was saying was true! Our son did screw up pretty big not too long after this discussion. Someone at school told him you could buy an app for your phone & if you deleted it the same day, you wouldn’t have to pay for the app. HAHAHAHA! $500 cell phone bill in one month!
It was a great learning opportunity. He had to look his dad and me in the eye and tell us he had downloaded all of those apps. He took responsibility. First and foremost- my son learned he could mess up and we still loved him. Next, he learned the responsibility of paying off a bill. He worked extra chores around the house for 3 or 4 months to pay that off. He learned the feeling of pride and accomplishment. We congratulated him for following through. He learned tenacity.
Taking responsibility for your actions, tenacity, persistence, control over your choices…. These are some skills many adults are challenged by. My son took a big step toward learning all of those lessons in this one big mistake.
The next time you are faced with your child stuck in a bit of hot water, don’t be afraid to let them stew. You are allowing them to grow up. You are allowing them the opportunity to realize their choices make their consequences. Both good and bad. Remember, we could use more people in the world who have learned that lesson.