As we all know, parenting sometimes means standing back and allowing your child to suffer the consequences of their poor judgment.
All too often we tend to rescue our teens from their bad decisions. It’s natural and counterintuitive… Inadvertently, however, we may be teaching them that there are no consequences for their actions. Maybe we are reinforcing their expectation that we will always be there to fix things and “save them” or that they are unable to do it on their own?
The proven realities: constant rescuing only perpetuates and reinforces the very behavior parents think they are seeking to cure. Adolescence is that stage of development when parents must allow their teen to experience the consequences of their decisions. This time is definitely not for the faint of heart. This is tough but very important work.
Your teen might be justified in being angry with you for not preparing them in advance for the situations that will certainly present themselves. Sometimes, we as parents wait to have the unpleasant discussions about choice of friends, drug and alcohol use, sex, internet use, home responsibilities, and a long list of many more topics that we assume our kids are prepared to manage (or not old enough to face quite yet). Have these conversations early and often! Our kids need to hear from us and what are our rules that, even when tested, (and yes they will test) we are totally committed.
Expecting them to establish what might be the consequences of violating the rules of your family might secure their participation in these critical talks. Many parents wait hoping their child won’t make a poor choice. After all, he or she is “a really good kid.” Waiting to have these talks “after the horse is out of the barn” is simply not fair and not productive.
It’s not too late. If you are having difficulty, get professional help. One thing we know with certainty: the longer you wait, the more difficult things are likely to become.