Thursday, December 12, 2013

Affluenza: Why parents should let kids Fail

Recently a 16 Year old was sentenced with only probation after pleading guilty to four counts of manslaughter by intoxication and two counts of assault by intoxication.

What in the world would lead a Judge to make that decision? What kind of legal defense do you have to not end up in prison?

Well it turns out you just have to have "Affluenza." If you want more detail on the case you can read about that in this Time Magazine article.

The point that was established during the trial was that Ethan Couch's life suffered because his "wealthy" parents had never let him experience a life consequence. To quote a psychologist in the case Gary Miller "He never learned that sometimes you don't get your way."

It is easy to look at the case and see it as a life of luxury enabled by lots of money. Please understand that the fault is not in the wealth, its that the parents covered for him all his life. As a Youth worker, and simply an observer of life around me, I have seen this happen no matter what the family financial situation.

As a parent you have 2 main responsibilities:

  1. Teach your child values that enable him/her to add to the world around them.
  2. Do your best to keep them alive.
As a parent you must let kids experience the consequences in life. When you take the consequence away you take the life lesson away and handicap your child in the long turn. 

In no way do I mean parents should not help their children, but there are situations where the best way to help them is to let them hurt in the short term.

When you child never starts a homework project till the night before its due, DO NOT finish the project for them after they fall asleep. Let them get a bad grade and if you have taught them that grades are important then they will be more likely to start the next project sooner.

When your child complains about being disciplined in class, do not participate in bickering about the teacher. You teach your child that no matter how they behave if they can argue it then they can get away with it. There are basics about how to behave in life and being able to argue well does not mean that your child is well behaved, usually it means the opposite.

If your child wants a car, and you can provide that for them, then sure let them have a car. If your child wants a car that has more features than getting them from one place to another then make them get a job to pay for it. If they wreck the car, let them ride the bus for a while instead of just getting them a new one. 

Let your kids fall,  let them experience that sometimes life hurts. Let them know that even if it is within your ability, they should not always get what they want, especially not when they want it.

You should let kids fail so that they can learn from life. When you can learn from life around you then you set them up to continue to learn even after they grow up and move out. Letting them fail will help to keep them alive and teach them values that will help them the rest of their life.

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