Being a parent is a tough job. No matter how wonderful your child is or how much support you have there are those difficult parenting moments.
A really challenging area for me is letting my kids face their own Natural Consequences. I have this overwhelming need to scoop in and save them from any type of pain or disappointment. No matter how trivial it may be. I’m sure a lot of us are like this.
One of my sons is very studious, organized (at the age of 11) very helpful and just an all around great little boy to be around. Derek has an old gentle soul. He’s always stayed ahead of his school work, almost seems OCD about getting his homework done.
His school scheduled to take a few students on a whale watch. They chose which students would go based on their grades, homework, behavior and testing scores. My son was one of the students picked to go, his only requirement was to maintain his grades and have no missing assignments.
I got a call the other day from my son’s teacher. He started out reminding me of the criteria for the whale watch. As he was talking, I realize my son must have messed up somewhere….. but then I’m thinking not Derek….. he has never gotten behind or not fulfilled his requirements. The teacher went on to explain to me that Derek had gotten behind in his current events for that week. Since he was such a good student his teachers decided to extend his deadline by 2 days. He even missed the extended deadline. He completely chose not to do his work and even went to his friends house that weekend.
My son was losing the opportunity to go on the whale watch. He had been looking forward to this trip for months. When I heard the teacher tell me they had just let him know in class that he lost his place on this field trip, my heart sunk. I could just imagine the disappoint and sadness he must have been feeling.
So many things ran through my mind. I wanted to save him from any type of hurt. I thought of rushing to the school and picking him up. Taking him out and spoiling him so he wouldn’t have to think of the trip. I thought about finding another whale watch for him to go on (he hasn’t been to one in a couple years). I even considered letting him stay home from school the day of the trip. That way he wouldn’t see the kids that followed the guidelines and did everything they needed to do board the bus and take off for their fun-filled day.
All of my thoughts and ideas quickly passed. I knew my son needed to feel this letdown. He needed to have a natural consequence to his actions or in this instance his lack of action.
There are many times that our kids do need us to shelter them from certain pain. I believe wholeheartedly in the times where we need to just sit back and let the chips fall where they must. Let our children see that there are consequences for everything in life. No matter how hard it is to see them unhappy, the lessons learned will benefit them so much more in the long run. They will have first hand experience that what they choose to do or not do always has a positive or negative effect. It all boils down to them having and making choices. Consequences can be just as much of a good thing as they can be bad. It’s what action or inaction we take.
Like any parent I wish I could make everything perfect for my children. I have briefly thought about making all their decisions and micromanage their lives. In reality I just can’t. Even if I could, doing so would be a disservice to them and to me.
There have been times where the kids have wanted me to “fix” a situation. When I haven’t saved them from the natural consequence they were facing, I have heard them say “you don’t love me”. My answer has been and always will be; “No, it is because I do love you and want the best for you that I must let you learn from this experience”. Love does not mean making things perfect. I will love them unconditionally and stand by their side, but I will not impede their growth in this adventure called life.
This is not an easy task, I struggle with it all the time. That is where I am learning to grow as a mother and as a person. No matter how many years I’ve been a mom to these 7 children, I am learning everyday. Progress not perfection 🙂
Are there any areas you’ve struggled with as a parent? How do you handle things when your children are or have faced natural consequences?