Sunday, November 20

the lessons of falling

We've always wanted our children to grow up to be strong, independent and self-confident people who know their own mind and stand up for what they believe in. We've worked hard to encourage them to make decisions and develop a moral compass of their own. We've tried to give them the language to articulate their needs and speak out when they need to. Yes, we want our children to have a strong mind of their own.

Except when they don't agree with us.

Everything goes along well until the time comes (and come it does) when what our children want and what we think is good for them, clash. But if we've done our job as we say we'd like to, then we have to allow our children to speak out and rationalise their choice and, perhaps, sway us to their side. And I think this is one of the hardest lines to walk. A high-wire act without a net.

We try to equip our kids with the tools they'll need to make their way through life, to make good choices. We model our own decision-making processes. If we don't let them make choices they'll never learn to do it and, importantly, they won't learn to live with the consequences of their choices. But we have to be prepared to live with our children's choices. If they decide to do something that we don't really like, or that we see will have negative consequences, what to do?

If I let my daughter choose her own clothes and she decides on something I don't like or a combination of clothes that I think other people will think is strange (and it has happened), what do I do? Do I let her go out in what she's chosen regardless, or do I try to talk her out of it and into a change of clothes?

Clothes aren't so bad, but it is much harder when it comes to friends. What do you do when your kids choose to hang out with people you don't like or think aren't a good influence? Can you tell your children that you'd rather they found someone else? Or do you simply hope that over the years you've given your child the tools they need to make a good choice in people - perhaps they see something in their friend that you're blind to.

And if we step in to steer our child's choices then we're not really letting them make choices at all. As a parent it is really hard to let your child fall - but sometimes the fall is exactly the lesson our child needs to learn. And if they never learn to fall, then they'll never learn to pick themselves up, either.

1 comment:

Jesse Reynolds said...

Isn't there an ipod app to help kids make correct decisions? :-)