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September 14, 2015

Until When?

Hal photo outside Feb2012The more I encourage a child to think for himself, the more he will care what I think.” (Unknown)

I am still a bit surprised when I hear parents say that they aren’t interested in teaching their children to think for themselves. Their line of thinking goes something like this: “Children can’t be trusted to make good choices, so I can’t give them the option of choice. I have to tell them what to do so that I can make sure that they do the right things.”

These parents love their children and want what is best for them, but they often end up in my office with a very rebellious (or apathetic) child, and can’t figure out why. I typically ask these parents one question…

“Until when?”

When will you stop telling your child what to do? When they turn 18? 21? 35? When can you be trusted to make “the right” decisions, according to you? Here’s the irony. The more you tell your kids how to live, the less they listen to whatever true wisdom you have to offer. I know it’s a fine line, but teaching your child about life is not the same thing as telling them how to live.

If you can be on the right side of that line more often than not, you’ll find that instead of ignoring or combating the parent they resent, your kids will be seeking and finding the parent they need.

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