Q&A: Letting my child experience natural consequences


My 13-year-old son has a real penchant for irresponsible and selfish behaviour. I took off early from work the other day so he could audition for a local community musical production. When I arrived at the school he was nowhere in sight, but his friend told me he was goofing off with a bunch of his classmates in the band room. After trying to reach him by phone and waiting 15 minutes, I headed back to work. He missed his audition and had to wait for me after school until I finished my workday. I thought I’d done the right thing, but other parents have suggested I was a bit harsh and now I’m starting to wonder. What do you think?

Answer: What you did was courageous, and a huge favour to other parents who need the benefit of your inspiring example.

Sadly, we’ve witnessed an unfortunate trend in recent years that has seen mums and dads “over-functioning” for their children. This is typically displayed in parents doing things for their children that they should be doing for themselves, or in refusing to let their child experience character-building instances of discomfort and inconvenience. Often what is considered “helping” is instead stunting in terms of equipping their children to become responsible and independent adults.  Regrettably, when parents over-function, they usually end up raising under-functioning adults.             

So stick to your guns! You did the loving thing by allowing your son to suffer the natural consequences of his poor choice and selfish behaviour. Keep it up, and chances are he’ll thank you for it someday.  

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