Lesson 7: Let your child fail
Parents who work hard to ensure their children’s success often have unsuccessful children. Most parents want their children to succeed, but many well-intentioned parents fall short by rescuing their children from the consequences of their actions.
If I routinely bring lunches, gym clothes and forgotten homework to school, I’m interfering with my child’s ability to become responsible. When I become my teenager’s alarm clock and wake her up several times, I’m interfering with her ability to become self-sufficient. When I argue with school staff regarding my child’s detention for talking in class, I’m teaching my child you don’t have to be considerate of others.
I often ask parents, why do you rescue your children from the consequences of their actions? Most say, we rescue because we don’t want our kids to experience the discomfort associated with making mistakes. Some say, it’s just easier to take care of the problem myself. They all say, my children are a reflection of me and I don’t want people to think I’m a bad parent.
As parents, it’s important for us to position our children for success but equally important to allow them to experience the consequences of their mistakes. The “cost” of learning increases with age. For example, a parent in one of my classes decided to teach her son a lesson in managing money. To do this she deposited enough money in her son’s lunch account for the first quarter of school. She told her son, “This is it for this quarter, when it’s gone it’s gone.” How long do you think it took her son to deplete his account? Two weeks.
In response to his request, with sincere empathy this wise mother said, “I know you’re disappointed that you used up your lunch money. I’ll be glad to provide you with more lunch money at the beginning of the next quarter.” When her son complained about how unfair, mean and selfish this was she quietly responded with the phrase, “I love you too much to argue,” and removed herself from her teen.
Did the teen in this scenario learn something about money management? Did he also learn that his mother loves him and is willing to enforce the limits she sets? It is these kinds of lessons that will help him make better decisions about money management as an adult. Help your child learn responsibility at a young age. Don’t wait until the stakes are higher.
For information on upcoming Love and Logic classes visit www.LSCARES.Org.
Kerri Gray is a member of Lee’s Summit CARES and a Lee’s Summit resident.