I’m discovering that my blogs targeting survival of the teenage years seem to be multiplying. This week’s focus? Painfully, (at least for me) this post is about choices and consequences. Some lessons individuals just have to learn on their own, which often means adults need to back off and let children’s actions dictate the outcome.

We had the first visit to see our freshman at college this past weekend. The good news is that he seems genuinely happier than he has ever been. It appears he has connected with both the people and the place. This is a great thing. The unfortunate news is that the minor details of not attending classes/getting enough sleep/turning in work/taking medication regularly seems to be leading him ever so close to probations front door. It is not that this is necessarily unexpected, but as a parent it is a painful process to see unfold. I believe every college freshman has an adjustment period. I just hope this is a wake-up call and not a foreshadowing prediction of what is to come. Either way, learning will occur.

Parents, when it comes to behavior, we can punish the negative and reward the positive until the cows come home, but ultimately, I believe what shapes long-term behavior are the natural and logical consequences of our actions, coupled with how those consequences motivate us to change. My challenge is to stay out of the lecture/guilt/shame mode of parenting, as I’m confident this response won’t yield a positive outcome. My son knows if he loses his scholarships, he will return home. That boundary was established at the onset of this adventure. At this point, I simply need to practice what I preach and tell my son what I tell so many parents, “People’s choices determine their consequences. If you don’t like the consequence, make a different choice.” I, for one, anxiously wait to see what choices my son makes as a result of this discussion.