Allowing Your Children to Become Responsible Adults

Daunting thought, eh? Unimaginable for those of you with little bitties. My niece is barely two and I cannot imagine her much past three. I can see our darlings at home reaching full adulthood in fast forward. A long time ago cuddles were replaced by rolling eyes. Sigh. Today I watched my youngest board a double decker bus for beach camp. They have a long day ahead of them–81 girls in one bus, with 1 bathroom. Not nearly as frightening as 81 boys in one busy with 1 bathroom. Ew.

As I watched more and more students board the buses, it got me thinking about the passage of time and how quickly it all goes by. Control freak that I am, I learned to pick and choose the battles worth fighting. Do I worry about her eating Ramen Noodles or do I worry about the friends she has? It’s frustrating, there is no doubt, to raise teenagers (feels more like cohabitation) and watch as they screw up. We are blessed 🙂 with two that are determined to learn from their own mistakes instead of reason and logic. Double sigh.

Double Decker Bus

Though, in the scheme of things, speeding tickets and minor car accidents are part of them learning to trust themselves, which I’ve determined is much more important that me learning to trust them. No one has failed so badly they didn’t graduate, no one has been hurt badly from an accident, no drugs or alcohol. For that I should be thankful that they are surviving and making good decisions on what really matters.

In the last five years or so, our theme as parents has become “live with the consequences.” We both know from our own journeys that if teenagers don’t begin to see the results of bad decisions, they will live a life thinking either nothing bad can happen or that we will always bail them out. Since each is different, they each were challenged in different areas. One tried to skate through middle and high school without effort and almost didn’t graduate. He shocked us by enrolling last fall in community college and is learning about how to survive college courses. The other has struggled with social situations and gave us a scare a few years ago, to the point where we had to intervene (cause that’s what parents do). However, I’ve seen her make some amazing decisions on the friends she chooses. I’ve never been happier than when she used her new-found freedom in driving to take herself to church on a Wednesday for youth group. Proud mama!

It helps, I suppose, to know that the typical human brain does not fully mature until the early to mid-twenties. Knowing that is less than 10 years away (give or take) is scary. They will have new challenges that neither of us had, but some will be what most twenty-somethings face. I look forward (and inwardly cringe) as they make those decisions on their own and succeed or fail as a result. Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing, we can learn from it. I certainly have as a parent. And I may relish in the day they ask us our opinion on a decision they have to make.



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