When I think back on my teen years the most impacting lessons on the person I am today were not taught to me by my parents. They weren’t something that someone sat me down and relayed to me with words. They were things I learned the hard way through experience. They were things I made the realization about, because my parents didn’t prevent me from experiencing what brought them about. In essence, a good parent must not always shelter their child from bad decisions and mistakes, but rather help them recover from those they make. I will let my children make mistakes. I will let them do stupid things, and learn what comes of doing stupid things.
Counter acting the effect of knowing everything:
I didn’t think I knew everything as a teen. In fact, I very matter of factly often recited that a truly wise man knew he knew nothing. I still was fairly sure I knew more than my parents either way. By allowing your kids to ignore you, get into trouble, and experience the reaction to their actions, you cancel out what I call the I-know-everything effect. You can’t argue that you know better than someone else if someone else is you. It’s a truth and education your child can’t dispute or ignore.
Teaching to live, rather than to follow:
Second, if you are constantly guiding your child away from trouble with a stern hand, sooner or later when they take the helm as adults they aren’t going to know how to steer. The fact is consequences are often lesser when we’re younger, it’s better for your child to learn to make their own decisions and that decisions can have consequences now rather than later when you may not be able or around to help them back to the right path.
Learning that bullet-proof and 10 ft. tall is a perspective not a fact:
Even the military recognizes that teens tend to feel invisibly untouchable, that’s why they recruit teens. A good dose of consequence can really help awaken an invisible teen to the reality of life-you can be touched. That first moment where as a parent you get to look over and say, “I told you so,” is often the start of a very humbling learning curve for kids, don’t let yours miss it.
Many of you reading the title to this article may have thought me crazy, more of you may have not even read beyond the title, but sometimes being a good parent really does entail stepping back and letting life happen to your kids. Where are you standing?
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