3 July 14 Fledgling
“And as I sat here musing without at thought or care, there came to me a wee small voice, out of the din and gloom that said ‘Cheer up, things might get worse!’ So, I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.”
That is how I feel right now. I know things are under control, and I know all the issues going on will work themselves out. Part of the process seems too easy. The emotional part seems too hard.
Natural consequences are wonderful parenting tools to use in many situations. It works remarkably well with teens. For example, if you don’t put gas in the car, you get stranded somewhere. If you decide to sleep in and not show up for work on time, you get fired. Simple things, really. However, if we keep rescuing our kids (making sure the tank is always full, or being the alarm clock so they wake up on time), how will they learn these lessons?
The problem comes in when we are, as parents, are too worried about the consequences of today, rather than allowing a lesson that will probably be learned once. Not many kids will run out of gas more than once. The shame of getting fired is apt to deter any employee from being too late. When do we want our kids to learn these lessons? Early? Say running out of gas on the way home from high school, or a date? Or would you rather it have been on the interstate during rush hour? When do you want them to learn to be their own alarm clock? That summer job? Or the first big job away from home?
I am struggling with some of this because we are at a stage where the stakes are higher, but not yet too high. College. First apartment. How do we get across the importance of getting a roommate? We let the money run out and then let him figure it out. If he doesn’t want to get a roommate or a job, stop paying for the apartment, right?
Then what? My feeble mommy brain pipes in. “What will happen to him? Will he end up on the street? Do I let him come home?” Note: if he is still refusing to get a job, allowing him to come home might not be the best option for him to learn the lesson. Many young people starting out have no concept of money and spend themselves, and their parents, into a hole. Cut off the funds.
When baby birds learn to fly, they first have to leave the nest, or in some cases pushed out of the nest. Some of them have to fall all the way to the ground, and flounder around a bit before learning how to fly. It is terrifying as a parent to do, but the bird has to learn to fly on his own, we can’t do it for him.
Be loving, be encouraging, help problem solve, but don’t rescue them. Don’t enable them to continue to live off of you. It isn’t healthy for them, or you.
So, now that I have given myself this little pep talk (thank you, self), I can go back inside and remember to let his problem of finding a roommate be left his problem. I will not ask, I will not remind, I will not point out. I will let it be.
Oh, this is going to be hard. Breathe in, breathe out. Go inside.
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