Allowing teenagers to make their own choices
Since my daughter just had her 13th birthday a few days ago, it has started me thinking. The teenage years are now here! Wouldn’t it be nice if our teenagers listened to all our experience and suggestions? We could save them a lot of mistakes and heartache and learning things the hard way. I think in the long run they just have to learn from life’s experiences and we have to be strong enough to let that happen. Allowing teenagers to make their own choices is part of being a parent – a hard part – but a part nonetheless.
Letting our teenagers learn the hard way is one of the hardest thing a parent faces. But, our children learn from their mistakes. So, without making mistakes how are they to learn? Good decisions, bad decisions and consequences are all a part of growing up to be responsible adults. As parents, I think the best thing we can do is hold them accountable for their decisions and actions. We may try to guide them in the right direction, but we must let go and allow them the decision, whether right or wrong – within reason and safety of course. The more decisions they are allowed to make on their own will help them become better decision makers as adults.
We can help by starting early in life when decisions and choices are small. We can guide them in the right direction. Giving young children choices between two things gives them a sense of control. As they get older, allow them to make more choices and give them more freedom. This will allow them to feel more in control of their own life. Teenagers are at that stage of just leaving childhood and barreling into adulthood. They need to feel a sense of control over their own lives.
When they are faced with a tough decision you can help them by being available to talk. Don’t insist on answering or telling them what to do. Just be a sounding board for them and allow them to weigh the choices and make the final decision. Sometimes their final decision may be the wrong choice and you may know that already. It’s hard as a parent to let it happen. But, this is a stepping stone for them to learn a valuable lesson. Let them know they can come to you and talk about it. It’s one of those times that perhaps they have learned a lesson and they need to know they can talk to you without being criticized. As a parent, it may be hard to watch this happen. Just be there and have a good listening ear.
Giving our children freedom to make decisions and holding them accountable if it turns out it was a mistake is one of the hardest jobs of being a parent. We have all been there. We may know, from our own experience, the result of whatever their choice is and what it will bring. But, we have to let go and allow them to make their own decision. If you remember, we were all teenagers once. We were looking to make our place in the world. We wanted to make choices for ourselves and felt a little suffocated if we weren’t allowed to. Just know that starting early and giving them early family values, they will make it through just like we did. You may also find that you are closer to your teenager because of it!