Tag Archives: Bad Decision

Will You Still Need Me, When You’re Thirty-Four?*

Letting go is easy.

Not grabbing them when they’re falling. . . that’s much, much harder.

Rearing children means that you’re responsible for not only their safety and well being at the very moment (and every moment), but that you’re supposed to be laying the groundwork for them to take control over their own lives and make good decisions on their own.Burning magnesium is really, really, really, really bright.

The first part of that last sentence is enough to drive just about anyone to the edge of sanity. The second part is what will take you, pick you up and hurl you like a caber so far over the line that even on a dark night you wouldn’t even be able to see it if it were etched in neon and burning magnesium.

Children are the living embodiment of the thought that everything has consequences. What you do with and to them now will have lasting ramifications in their later lives.

As parents, we want to make sure our little dudes and dudettes learn not only from their own experiences, but our experiences. That way, they won’t have to suffer like we did. That is the platonic ideal of parenting, but you know no teenager ever actually listens. Why would they? I mean, they already know everything already.**This is an example of a very stupid punishment. Firstly, twerking? That's what you're worried about? I'd think peer pressure would be enough to curtail that after a few tries. Secondly, if you think public shaming will teach her any lesson beyond "Don't get caught," you're crazy.

Which is why punishing kids ever more extravagantly as they grow older isn’t going to work all that well for you later on.

The most important lesson you can pass along to your little dudes is the instinct to, when they don’t actually know what to do or where to go, actually ask questions. Ask for help. And more, turn back to their parents for the first shot at offering said help.

Even now, I’ll use my dad as a sounding board before making certain decisions. I know he’s got my best interests at heart and has experienced a lot of what I’m already going through and he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. And I say this long after the parent-worshiping phase has worn off.

It took a while, I will admit. I didn’t look to my parents as sources of help until some time after college. Before that, I was bound and determined to do it my way because I was the smartest man (I am a MAN!) in the room.

Fortunately, my parents didn’t start screaming at me when I made a bad decision or did something stupid as I was growing up. They offered advice, let me know what was expected and, for the most part, were calm but firm when I crossed the line.

The teenage years didn’t irreparably damage our relationship. Thankfully.

As the young dudes grow older and the consequences of their dumb decision-making become more significant, the urge to tighten our grip and tell them exactly what to do can become overwhelming. If you want to have any influence in your little dudette’s life as she grows older, you must let her make her own decisions.

That doesn’t mean you don’t set rules or allow her to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. However, once you’ve made clear your expectations and the consequences of not meeting said expectations, you have to simply drop into an advisory role and pick your battles with extreme care.

I’ve always felt that, as long as it’s not disturbing class, my young dudes could wear whatever they wanted, have whatever hair cut they wanted. If I thought they looked horrible . . . Well, my being horrified by their looks probably was a plus.Didn't we already do that? When they were 18? I'm almost positive they were supposed to move out at one point.

Provide options, help them understand probable scenarios from various actions, but don’t’ try to force your decisions on them.

It’s never easy watching as your darlings make a mistake, but it’s one of the necessary steps they have to take if they ever want to grow up and be independent.

After all, we all want to use that extra bedroom as a place for us, not as the room for your adult child who’s moved back in.

Footnotes & Errata

* Still apologizing to the Beatles, still not regretting using the allusion even one little bit.
** For the sarcasm-impaired among you, that was sarcasm. Teenagers don’t really know everything. They just think they do. This has been a friendly reminder from Mr. Obvious.

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Bad Decisions Have Lasting Consequences

I’ve lost my hear so many different ways.

I’ve told kids I lost my hair because I put fun colors in it and all the hair fell out. I’ve told them that I played with fireworks and it all got burned off. I’ve told them I wore hats too much and it all fell out. Basically, if I want to mess with a little dude, I’ll tell him that whatever he’s doing is what caused my hair to fall out.

Sure it’s a cheap laugh, but I’ll take them when I can get them.

This, though, isn’t about how I lost my hair, but about what I did with it before I lost it.

I was talking with some of the fourth-graders in Ms. S’s class at Awesome Elementary School. We were discussing how characters in books can sometimes make bad decisions and how those bad decisions can have an effect on the character down the line. It was a prelude to talking to them about how we all, in our real lives, can make bad decisions that, at the time, seem like good ideas.

Which is when I brought up the high-school ‘fro. That I wore. Every summer during high school.

high-school 'fro

Yeah, that’s me over there on the right from when I was in high school. No, my hair didn’t do that on its own. That, dudes, is the result of many hours in a beauty salon, praying that no one I knew walked in while I was wearing all those many, many curlers.

What can I say? It was the very early ’80s. I thought it looked good.

The kids could barely believe that this was a picture of me. One of the dudes looked at the picture and said, “Is that you, Mr. Jones. You look so . . . ” At which point Ms. S broke in and said, “I think you were going to say different. Right?”

Yeah, sure. I have a feeling he was going to say something much, well, different than different.

And now that it’s too late, there’s nothing I can do to make that bad decision into a good decision. ‘S what I meant about how bad decisions can stick with us for long after we make those decisions.

So, dudes, think before you try to get all hip looking. Think before you try out that hair style you saw in the teen magazine. Remember, you’re old. You have children. Do you really want to explain why you looked like that when they get older?

Beware the high-school ‘fro!

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