Let’s assume this:  Every choice comes with a consequence.  When the consequences of any given choices are obvious and immediate, everyone seems to gets it.  However, when the consequences are very subtle, and we overlook the pointers to what is happening, it is easy to excuse or turn away from the impending reality ahead of us.   

And what if some of our parenting choices are pointing our kids in the wrong direction?  And, what if those subtle consequences are being ignored, but yet the profound impact is growly slowly, consistently, and insidiously inside your children’s lives?  And because we do not see this, what if we do poorly in preparing them for the realities of life, even though we are working our butts off TRYING to do the right thing?

And no one told us?

Or we just didn’t see it? 

Or perhaps we just followed the herd, as many move down this path in these particularly unchartered times we have? 

And the most dangerous of them all; our egos get invested in the way we do it,  and we end up defending our choices in order to feel okay, despite the direction that is unfolding.   Many of you are saying, “Too many questions, Dr. Cale.”  So, let’s move on…

Breaking it Down:  The ‘Make Life Easy’ Approach to Parenting.

Here is the “Make it Easy” game plan:

  • Predict challenges in advance and remove them.  
  • Immediately remove any emotional upset or discomfort.
  • Complaints are your job to resolve, and parents find a way to help.
  • Any stress is mom or dad’s job to fix.
  • Boredom is also a mom or dad’s job to find an answer.
  • Failure or pending struggle is unacceptable, so you jump in and take-over.
  • Ace Play:  You also try to foresee any struggle, disappointment, or discomfort and ensure that your child avoids that path.
  • The Clencher Play:  If your son or daughter is about to experience the consequences of their poor choice, you protect them from that consequence.

Why is this so problematic?  Because each time we do this, we protect, but we fail to teach.  Wisdom is gained through experience, and that experience inevitably must contain success and failure.  It must contain moments of struggle and hardship, followed by ease and recovery.  It also must contain the natural consequences of our choices, because this is the ONLY way we can really learn from our choices.  If it’s a great choice, then we get the reward.  If it’s a poor choice, we get to feel a bit of pain.  Both are valuable and equal teachers.

The key here is that experience brings the opportunity to learn.  If we limit experiences for our children, we limit their learning opportunities. Worse yet, if we create experiences that are false teaching moments, and provide our children with these false lessons about life, we truly disable them from being prepared for reality.

Making It Easy Now… Makes It Hard Later. (But Only 100% Of The Time.)

Reality Check: Do you find life to be easy, and some guardian angel steps in to help you through each challenge and struggle?  Is someone there to lift the heavy moments from your shoulders and make your life easier?  Have you found that you can avoid taking responsibility for your actions, as some protector shields you from the consequences of your poor choices?

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who lives that life.  It’s a misfit for reality, as the world does not work that way. 

Yet, I find lots of children being raised with expectations that match such a delusional, irresponsible world. These children are not hard to spot because they develop the false expectation that others will work harder at their success and happiness than they do. They expect remarkable results and benefits with little effort.  If more effort is required, then they give up. Or turn to the nearest adult, and demand that you do it. Later in life, this approach leaves them angry, frustrated, and incompetent in handling the demands of reality. They will likely fail, and they will also likely blame you.  Life will become a true struggle as they emerge into the real world.

The Correction:  Four Pointers To Prepare Kids For Life

  1. Whenever you feel yourself working harder than your children at their lives than they are, hit yourself up beside the head.  And do it hard, like you mean it (smile).  Why?  So that you stop immediately.  Don’t fix every struggle or upset.  If they are battling life, wait until they ask for help and step-in ONLY when they are doing the heavy lifting.  If they want you to solve it or fit it for them, pull back.   
  1. When poor choices by your children have left them with a painful or difficult moment to get through, don’t protect them from this.  Allow them to get through it, and let the emotions to come and go without you fixing it.   This is where the real learning comes from.  And then, if they are ready, see if they are willing to create their own solutions to correct their errors. 
  1. Prepare your kids for a responsible life by giving them responsibilities. Make sure with more time at home, your children move into summer with more simple chores to help out.   It’s a simple formula, but it works.   Make sure they participate in the chores and responsibilities that keep the home functioning.  This will create habits of personal responsibility.
  1. And finally, make certain that they constantly have ‘skin in the game’ for all those remarkable goodies available to them.  What do I mean?  I mean that reality doesn’t just give us stuff when we ask.  We have to earn it.  So make sure that your children learn to save,  and work toward those expensive goodies with some extra effort.    

The goal here is to reflect the way reality works.  Not from a lecture from mom or dad.  But from experiences in daily life. Hold this course, and they will become ready for the world that awaits.