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Preface: I have never raised a child…so I may be outta line here. But I have been raised by very skilled parents.

I have a friend who is dealing with issues with their dad. She made some bad life decisions and is dealing with the consequences. Her dad said, “See? You should have listened to me! You should have stayed in school. You should have…”

But, it we HE who raised her to make decisions like that. As a parent, you fill a child with lessons starting before birth. Your verbal guidance matters to a degree, but mostly, your actions and reactions to things are what shapes a growing mind.

You can’t tell your kid to tell the truth while you lie on your taxes.

You can’t tell a kid to say no to drugs while you drink to excess.

You can’t fill someone with lessons for 16 years and then expect you can simply TELL them what to do.

At that point, the child is no longer an empty vessel.

All you can do is give guidance, and have faith in their values (which you helped shape).

I’m sorry, but after 16 years, it’s too late. The time for teaching is over. After 16, a kid is gonna start making their own decision based on what they have been taught.

And when I say “taught,” I don’t mean the verbal lessons like “look both ways before you cross the street.” I mean the unspoken lessons like, “It’s okay to break the speed limit law if you don’t think you’ll get caught.”

At a certain point, a parent needs to stop being a keeper, and start being an advisor. A keeper assumes authority and imposes rules. An advisor may attempt to guide, but allows the advisee to steer themselves. Even if that may be into a ditch.

My grandparents had an embroidered sign on their wall that said “There are two great gifts we can give our children: One is roots. The other, wings.”

 


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