Six Children and No Theories

Covering parenting and child development issues

Standing Our Ground

Written by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Community Blogger | Dec 29, 2012 12:43 PM

"A loving heart is the truest wisdom." (Charles Dickens)

A few rooms away, an angry fifteen-year-old sits watching television, munching on Christmas cookies and studiously ignoring her parents. The snow that started this argument has slowed down, but is still covering the trees, grass and - most significantly - the roads. She may be angry, but she's safe. Chances are, she would still have been safe had she been allowed to travel to the basketball game 40 minutes away, but we weren't willing to take that chance.

It's hard to make unpopular decisions, painful at times to do things that we know will disappoint our kids and make them mad at us. In fact, as parents, there are all sorts of decisions that are no fun at all. The snap decision, reached in the heat of the moment, that we regret making as soon as the words are out of our mouths. The decision that keeps our kids modest or warm, but makes them appear unfashionable in the eyes of their peers. The decision to make them do things for themselves when life would be so much calmer and less dramatic if we simply did them instead.

As a parent, I love those moments when my daughter and I are friends. Shopping trips where we both have fun. Car rides where we have conversations that matter to both of us. Circumstances where I can give her the "yes" that lights up her face.

But I'm not supposed to be just her friend. I'm supposed to be her mother. I'm supposed to be the one who keeps her safe from danger, pulls her back from the ledge, looks farther ahead into the future than she is able and decides something is not a good idea.

And something that jeopardizes her safety - anything that we feel reasonably falls into that category - is not a good idea. Kids, especially teenagers, are wired to see only the payoff but none of the danger. As parents, we need to be careful not to counterbalance the scales by magnifying the danger, but we need to be alert to it and factor it in to the decisions we make.

This time, we got a payoff ourselves. The game was cancelled, our vilified decision upheld by an impartial source, and our daughter got to spend time with her friends after all, in the safety of their home within walking distance from ours. It was a win-win, tinged with stubborn teenage bitterness toward parents who dared to stand their ground. 

But that's okay. Better angry and safe than happy and endangered.

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