Practice Makes Progress
We all agree that no one wants to suffer or have their child suffer. We don’t want bad things to happen or trouble to come our way, or our child’s. Yet, what appears and feels like discomfort, disappointment, and discord are, in fact, opportunities to solve problems.
“Mom, Chloe invited me to the movies at noon. They have an extra ticket. I’ve been so excited to see it! Can I go? They can swing by and pick me up in 10 minutes,” asks Ava.
Of course, Ava’s mom wants to say yes because she’s excited. But Ava has not started her Saturday chores, and they’d agreed to completion by noon. Ava’s mom says no gently.
“I know how much you love those books and movies, Ava. I wish I could say yes, but your chores remain undone.”
“Mom, couldn’t I do them when I get home. It’s no big deal.”
“But it is a big deal because we agreed we’d have them wrapped up by noon. And we are promise keepers.”
I love Ava’s mom’s inclusive reminder of their family culture: we are promise keepers. No lecturing, no buffering, and no arguing leave Ava with the opportunity to learn from her mistake. To Ava’s mom’s credit, she passes up the temptation to forgo the rules to gain a notch on her daughter’s like-mom-meter.
The stakes of going or not going to a movie in seventh grade remain significantly lower than high-stakes adult decisions such as quitting a job, getting married, or accepting a promotion overseas. The adolescent years present the perfect time to practice making decisions. In the safety of low-risk conditions, tweens and teens learn prioritization skills and the benefits of delaying gratification, which advance their approach to solving their problems.
It’s not easy to hold the line with tweens and teens. But we have this extraordinary opportunity to lead by example knowing that our children are likely to emulate what they see us model.