Steve and I talk a great deal about INTENTIONAL parenting during the high school years.
By that we mean looking for any and every opportunity to help our children become self-sufficient, thus prepping them for the college years when they are no longer under our roof.
These opportunities come up all the time, but many of us miss them unless we are paying very close attention.
Here’s a great real-life example—of which I may or may not (ahem) have personal knowledge…
A teen had graduated from high school and was driving to the beach with a friend… and they were—umm—anxious to get there.
So they just happened to be going “a tad” fast on the interstate when a state trooper (“Georgia Boy” we call them down South) pulled them over.
The trooper asked, “Ma’am, What’s your hurry? Do you know you were going slightly in excess of 104 miles per hour?”
Ok, let’s assume for the sake of argument that I was this child’s parent. This is an INTENTIONAL parenting moment.
First and foremost, as the parent I have to get her off the road if she does not have better sense than to drive that fast.
And then, I know she is going to college in August. I know the punishment is losing her license for six months and a hefty fine. I also know I want her to get off to a good start at college. You know: Go through sorority rush, make friends, all the usual stuff.
What do I do?
One: Let her experience the full force of the law. Have her go off to college without a car, work to pay the fine, let the gavel come down.
Two: Hire an attorney to try to get the charges–and punishment–lowered.
Of, course, if this parent was me—which I’m neither confirming nor denying—my husband is an attorney so option two would be particularly tempting.
This parent chose option one.
Why? Because the child had to feel the pain and consequences of her actions.
Every single time she thought about speeding in the future, she would remember the pain of walking for six months. Every time she paid higher insurance rates she would remember.
It had to happen this way or the parent would risk this happening over and over again. The message in her child’s head would be, “Mom will fix it.”
Fast forward three months. This child is now at college.
It’s a big football weekend. All her friends are drinking and she joins in.
WALKING home from the bar with her date, a policeman stops them and charges both of them with Minor in Possession.
The parent gets the 2 a.m. call no one wants.
“Mom, I am in jail.”
Another INTENTIONAL parenting moment.
The husband and wife look at each other. Do they get dressed, drive three hours and rescue their little darling from the rapists and murderers in the county jail and comfort her in her time of need or do they leave her there?
Thankfully, the husband remembered years earlier sitting in the football stadium at his alma mater when a plane would fly over that said “It’s always ‘spring’ time at Aaron Bonding.” He called Aaron Bonding from their bed.
Aaron bailed her out. The parent told the bondsman to put the fear of God in her and take her back to her dorm.
Next day: no clemency. Again, full force of the law.
The dad took her to court where she paid the full fine, but Mom stayed at home and told her that she had been to watch her in every single play, horse show, softball game…every event of her whole life, but she would not go watch her plead guilty.
Long term, what happened to this child?
Ten years later she is an attorney. Both of these experiences have made her a better attorney than if she had never experienced the pain. (Hey, she already knew the drill!)
This is INTENTIONAL parenting.
It’s parenting for the long term.
Hard on the kids, even harder on the parents.
But it’s absolutely essential for your child’s transition to responsible adulthood.
Sound like this parent (whoever she is) did the right thing. She made a hard, loving decision. And maybe, one day, she’ll be appreciated for it.
I hope you eventually hear appreciation from your child for all the hard, loving things you do as well.