Chapter 5: How To Talk to Your Kids About Making Wise Choices
What parent doesn’t want their kids to make wise choices? We all do! After reading this chapter, my eyes have been opened to the levels of success that are in front of this generation. Once someone has graduated from college, they are—in most cases—instantly behind the eight ball with student loans and the difficulty of getting a job. Academic standards are through the roof. Schools are environments where kids don’t care and teachers are trying to be disciplinarians rather than educators… Not to mention the prodigies we ALL want our kids to be in all their activities! They just have to be the best.
“We have developed little tolerance for failure or disappointment.” This is a powerful, eye-opening statement to hear as a parent. We absolutely want to see our kids succeed in everything they put their hands to. It is heartbreaking when that doesn’t work out or when we see the disappointment on their faces. Brian goes on to say “When parents micromanage their children, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, scholastically, and every other way – they rob their children of two things: confidence and competence.”
Alright, moms and dads… Let’s talk about a touchy subject for a moment. As much as we want to, we cannot wrap our children up in cotton candy and bubble wrap! That is simply a disservice to their future and to our future grandchildren. If our children never feel disappointment, never feel the consequences of making a wrong choice, never experience the sting of failure, they will never learn to raise their standards and try harder. We simply create a generation of kids who are totally complacent and expect someone else to take care of the problem!
Think back for a moment to the first time you gave your son or daughter a spoon. What a disaster! Your sweet baby was not going to clean that mess up themselves. Not one bit. As a matter of fact, they may have even played in their food and made the mess bigger. However, you can’t not let your child learn to use the spoon. They have to. They are going to try, and make more messes and try again only to make more messes. At that age, you are on clean-up duty. You have to allow them to miss their mouth along the way. The same goes in life. As they get older, you can sometimes see the outcome of a situation before it happens. You warn them of the consequences, but if they aren’t going to get hurt or hurt others, you may just have to let them fail in order to learn.
Your actions speak louder than words. When your actions and words match and are both operating in the ways of the Lord then your children will receive your wisdom better. They can see that you have succeeded and learned from your mistakes. They will then learn from theirs.
The key questions that Brian talks about are powerful questions. They force intentional time talking to our kids about life in-depth. Real stuff, not just the surface conversations that are easy to have. As parents, God gives us teaching moments constantly to help our kids see what we have done and to see how to not make the same mistakes in the future. Speak carefully, pray constantly, and be led by the Holy Spirit.
What is a way that you wish your parents would have taught you differently when making mistakes?
My parents did a pretty good job of allowing me to make mistakes. They were pretty tough in their discipline as well, so I knew when I had crossed a line. The only thing I wish my parents would have done was to talk to me a little more, or allow me to vocally learn. They were somewhat silent in their anger and when it was done it was done. There wasn’t a time of really learning what to do next time. It was very past tense. I know what I did was wrong but I wasn’t always sure how to not do it again or avoid the same outcome in a different situation. I went through a great deal of trial and error before I figured out the pattern that was causing me to get into trouble.
Bottom line, I believe this chapter is more about being intentional than anything else. You have to be extra intentional with fewer reactions and more responding time. It’s hard to shut off the distractions around us and our children so that we can focus and give a thoughtful conversation the time it deserves. This is something that we may have to create time for, not always at the dinner table, or in a way that feels so disciplinarian. My dad would have some of these very intense conversations with me on the golf course. I had no idea I had just been taught a lesson until afterwards. Or mom and I would go shopping and at lunch, we would have a conversation that would take a turn to a lesson I needed and didn’t see coming. Intentional time is invaluable in the lives of your children.