The minute your child is born, you begin thinking about everything in the world you must protect him or her from, and that protective instinct often carries through for the rest of your child’s life, but as your child begins to grow up and enters the teen years, it’s important to let your teen make mistakes.
When you let your teen make mistakes, you do two things: you show that you trust your teen enough to let him or her try something on his or her own, and you let your teen learn from experience. Since the adage is true that experience is the best teacher, letting your teen make mistakes can help him or her develop instinct and decision-making ability.
When you let your teen make mistakes, it does not mean you are turning him or her loose without any guidance. It simply means that you are relinquishing some control over his or her life and allowing your teen to test the waters. It is the only way your teen will develop a sense of self and a level of independence to be a successful adult.
When you let your teen make mistakes, it also means that you allow your teen to be less than perfect. It literally means allowing your teen to be human, to be fallible, to be imperfect. It is an important allowance to make, in this world of airbrushed beauty and false images of perfection. Let your teen know that it is ok to make mistakes and ok to try new things, even if they are not successful. Teach your teen to approach life with a sense of humor and a sense of forgiveness.
Since the other way that teens learn best is by example, be willing to allow yourself to make mistakes, too. If you let your teen make mistakes, it won’t go over well if you are beating yourself up over making a mistake. Show your teen that you can forgive yourself, too, and your teen will be more likely to believe you when you forgive his or her mistakes as well.
Twenty-first century teens live in a different world than most of us grow up in. They have instant access to information and overexposure to the media. It’s not as simple as it was, but that does not mean you cannot still raise thoughtful, conscientious, productive teens. You won’t be able to protect them from everything, and its ok to let your teen make mistakes, because what is really important is being there to help them learn from the mistakes they make and apply what they learned to becoming better people.
As parents, you will never stop feeling the urge to protect your kids. One of the most difficult parts of being a parent is learning how to let go and let your teen become an individual person separate from you, but the satisfaction you will have as you watch your teen grow into an adult outweighs the fear you might experience of letting it happen.
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