How do we keep our kids from messing up?

parentingMy son just recently turned 11.  I think that makes him officially a tween, which scares me to death!  He will be entering the new world of middle school next year with new adventures, new friends and new dangers too.

So much is out there that I don’t remember being a concern in my childhood.  We didn’t have to worry about internet predators or accidentally typing in the wrong website to be routed to inappropriate images.  We certainly didn’t have to remove our shoes and belts before we passed through airplane security.  And we played outside until the sun started to set everyday with very little concern of strangers.  On top of that, today our sex-saturated society is showing much more, much sooner and violence is the same way.  We’ve become numb to television violence and even apathetic toward the real thing sometimes.

But with all of the images, dangers and substances out there, how do we keep our kids from messing up and making bad decisions?  I asked a friend of mine who has an older child, wondering how she’s turned out a good kid, seemingly unscathed by technology and media.  She looked at me with a smile and said, “You don’t!  You can’t keep them from messing up!”

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize that I’ve got to teach my children that there are consequences for their actions – especially when the consequences are still small.  Breaking a toy in the midst of a tantrum, and causing them to have to throw away that toy or buy a new one with their own money, is small beans compared to crashing their car into someone else.  I have to teach them to make good choices with consideration of the consequences, and then let go.  I have to trust in God that the groundwork He and my husband and I have laid down in our Catholic faith teachings will carry them through to make the right choices.  I have to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide my children closer to Him rather than farther away.  I have to allow them the opportunity to mess up and trust that they won’t!

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