Updated: Sep 14, 2019
I don't make Mia suffer through my podcasts when I'm driving her to school. Therefore, we were listening to the radio this morning, and we heard an interesting news story.
A 17 year old girl in Florida was arrested for allegedly stealing money from her parents and trying to use that money to hire a hit-man to have her parents killed. Pretty intense.
While I know nothing else about this young lady's situation and have no insight into what tactics her parents used to raise her, I know one thing for sure. I hope I never do anything, as I raise my kids, that leads them to literally want me dead.
Parenting has been a learning experience. And I don't think the learning will ever end.
I will always have high expectations of my kids when it comes to their behavior. I think that setting high standards is important, as long as they are achievable. It is by these standards that kids learn important lessons in integrity, responsibility, the differences between right and wrong, and that actions have consequences, among others.
However, stories like these always serve as a reminder that parenting shouldn't be a dictatorship. It is not exactly a democracy either. I think it's more like a GPS. Admittedly, it's a GPS that is sometimes wrong. Whether we like it or not, none of us have all of the right answers. And even when we do, our kids, teenagers especially, aren't always inclined to trust us because, obviously, we know nothing, we couldn't possibly understand what they are going through, and they are smarter than us.
We are mostly here to provide directions, but our kids have to have the freedom to figure some things out on their own. They do that through exploration. Some of that exploration will lead to failure, some will lead to pain, some will lead to trouble (hopefully they have listened enough that they don't get into too much trouble).
We can only hope and pray that enough of our direction sank in and that they are able to use the failure and pain and trouble to forge their own path and, ultimately, find their own way.
They are going to take the scenic route, and that exploration should be encouraged; that is where the real learning happens.
We can't keep our kids on a leash (unless they are toddlers at Disneyland I guess), but we can stand on the perimeter, love them well, and gently nudge them (maybe sometimes more gently than others) back on course when they stray too far off into the woods.
It will take some longer than others (I was about 27, maybe 28) but someday they will thank you.