Let kids feel the impact of their decisions at the mall
“Owen called from the mall and said, ‘Dad, would you bring me money?’” said a friend at a party, when parents kibbitz about our favorite subject — kids.”I had dropped him off at a friend’s house and didn’t know he was going to the mall. Now he wanted one of us to drive 20 miles each way to deliver the money. I said, ‘Hit your friends up for a loan.’”
Hurray to Dad for setting a boundary and encouraging his only child, age 13, to solve his problem and learn better planning. With an only child, it’s easy to fall into the trap of indulgence because you have the time and money, and want to avoid guilt, the parental poison.
It’s okay to say “No” and allow him to learn from poor planning. It falls under “natural consequences,” also known as “giving him enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.”
The little “burns” of an empty pocket and asking for a loan, teach tweens and teens to take responsibility and better manage their affairs.
Avoid undermining the lesson by saying, “I told you so.” Asking questions or I-messages will preserve the relationship. “I was surprised you were going to the mall. Did you know that was the plan?” Or, “My Dad taught me to always leave home with money in my pocket, just in case.”
Teens can revel in the the freedom of independence and the responsibility that goes with those first mall expeditions. It’s an excellent opportunity to make spending decisions, and find out which friends can be counted on to share their resources.
A true “natural consequence” means that parents do not have to interfere with one of the most powerful teaching tools. If needed, encourage kids by saying, “I bet you can solve that problem,” or “Do you have any ideas?” or “Ask someone for a few bucks.”
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