Giving Your Teenager the Freedom to Fail

failure is an option

Being a parent is really hard, but letting go is even harder. Think about it. If you are a young parent, you realize that you are pretty much in control of all the decisions your child makes—what kind of clothes they are going to wear, where they’re going to go, what kind of food they are going to eat. You are in control.

But, as your children get older, you move from being in control as a parent to being more out of control as a parent. As a teen, your child makes more decisions on their own—decisions that might even be a little painful if they make the wrong decision. But the pain of those decisions can actually help them grow.  Of course, we don’t want our kids to make a really poor decision that’s going to scar them for the rest of their life, so we need to keep all of this within certain boundaries.

For example, I remember one of our daughters, who was seventeen at the time, wanted to go to a party and my wife and I really didn’t think it was a very good idea. We sat down with her and said, “You know what, honey? We don’t think it is a good idea for you to go and we don’t think you should go. If you do go, you are going without our blessing and out from under our authority, but you need to make the decision whether you’re going to go or not.” We were letting her make the decision and giving her the freedom to fail. When failure is an option, children can gain wisdom. I am pleased to report that she made the decision not to go to the party, and we let her know that it was a very wise decision.

So, I want to encourage you to give your children the freedom to fail as they get older. Of course, that freedom will depend not only on their age, but also their track record and maturity level. Allow them to make those decisions so that when they are ready to fly solo later in life, they’ll have the equipment, the knowledge, and the wisdom to be able to make wise decisions.

What are some ways you have allowed your children to make decisions and possibly fail? Share in the comments below.

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