The homework was done early in the holiday weekend. My older daughter had left it sitting on the kitchen counter. For the past two weeks, I had been the one to remind her that she needed to put her homework in her bag. This time, I gathered it and all the other things that belonged to her and placed them in her room to be put away. The homework never made it to school yesterday.
My daughter was upset. Forgetting her homework means she can only get a 70 percent on the assignment. There were tears shed, but she learned an important lesson about taking responsibility for her schoolwork.
I could have saved her the agony of a late assignment. I could have reminded her to put it in her bag when it was on my counter. I could have asked her yesterday morning if she had it in her bag. I could have, but I didn’t.
You see, at some point, our kids have to take responsibility for their choices. And choices have consequences — good ones and bad ones. When we protect our kids from the consequences of their actions, we keep them from growing up into responsible adults. We raise children who expect everything to go their way. We raise kids who are dependent on others to keep them out of trouble.
And that’s not the kind of kids I want to raise. I want to raise kids who think before they act. Kids who know that choices have consequences. Kids that take responsibility for their actions.
Plus, I’m simply following God’s example. God forgives our sins, but He doesn’t take away the consequences of our poor choices. If I choose to steal something, I could still go to jail even if I repent and ask God for forgiveness. God loves us and He forgives us, but He doesn’t always choose to take away the consequences of our sin. He could, but He doesn’t.
When we allow our kids to take their lumps, to reap the consequences of their decisions, we teach them how to make better decisions. I know my older daughter will check her backpack every morning to make sure all of her homework is there. There’s nothing I could have said or done that was as effective a teacher as the mistake she made yesterday.
It’s hard to watch our kids make mistakes. It’s hard not to jump in and rescue them. But when we don’t, when we allow the natural consequences of their actions teach them, our kids take one more step toward becoming responsible adults. And that’s the end goal of this parenting thing.