As a child grows into adolescence and then continues on the journey into adulthood, the parent must allow for the child to make decisions for himself based on the adolescent’s level of maturity. The parent must allow the adolescent to make decisions that he will be able to handle. The decisions should be those that the adolescent has the capability and the insight to be able to make. Ability to make a correct decision does not guarantee that a correct decision will be made. Regardless, the adolescent must make the choice so that he can learn and grow. This does not mean that parents should allow the adolescent to be placed in a situation where the adolescent does not have the ability or maturity to make the correct choice.
God will never allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to handle. Parents should take care to do the same. Adolescents need to learn from their mistakes not from the mistakes of neglectful parents. If a parent is allowing a child to sin, in order to discuss the wrong of sin, while the child is sinning, that is neglect.
Roxie was a “go getter.” She loved to be in charge of everything. When she had kids, she did everything for them. She was the coach of their soccer team, the head of the mother’s association, and a chaperon at all of the dances. Roxie kept her girls busy and planned every minute of their lives. She did not want to waste any of it. Roxie was so used to being in charge, that as her children entered their teenage years, she forgot to let go of some of the control. Her children missed the opportunity to choose which sport to join. They did not pick their electives in school. What to eat, where to shop, even who to date, was directed by Roxie’s decisions. The children were not even allowed to turn in assignments until Roxie checked and approved them.
As the children reached their eighteenth birthdays, Roxie began to remember all of the crazy things that she did as a kid. She thought her teens were missing out. She encouraged them to go to the local parties. She knew alcohol would be served, but she reasoned that they would never learn to avoid temptation if they were kept in a box and never had to face it. After all, she thought, alcohol was served at her parties and she never got drunk, she simply refused the drinks.
Poor Roxie, she did not realize that her children never developed their decision making muscles. She also did not notice that her children now resented that they had grown dependent upon their mother. By encouraging the children to go to the parties, Roxie had knowingly placed her children in harm’s way. What she did not know, was that the temptation was greater than the children could handle.
With a desire to be independent of their mother’s decisions, coupled by weak decision making muscles, Roxie’s children slowly came to love alcohol. The alcohol lowered their inhibitions and Roxie’s teenagers began to make other poor decisions. Being dependent people, they tended to date others who made decisions for them. The girls felt comfortable in controlling relationships. Their boyfriends were both controlling and impulsive. Before they graduated, Roxie’s children had children of their own.
Rachelle often described herself to friends as being “large and in charge.” She was a tall woman with a sometimes overbearing personality. Rachelle loved to be in charge of everything. She was good at it too. She ran every local event and fueled every election in town. She was even in charge of the welfare unit at her church. Rachelle loved being a mother. She entered her children into every contest and event. She coached their sports teams and went to all of the Girl Scout meetings.
As Rachelle’s children got older, she reluctantly and slowly relinquished control of their lives. Rachelle groaned inside when her daughter decided to quit piano. She could not believe that she allowed her daughter to make that mistake. It took everything Rachelle had to allow her children to choose the electives they wanted in school, when it was so different from what Rachelle would have picked for them. Rachelle watched, with clenched lips and a bitten tongue, as her girls slowly made all of the decisions that she would have never made. Her daughters quit sports, dropped band, and picked up electives in computers. They even quit the glee club to join the math league. Her girls’ lives began to become very different from what she had envisioned them to be. Rachelle was certain that the girls had destroyed their future.
As the girls got older, Rachelle noticed that they were beginning to blossom. She started seeing the same strength in her daughters as she saw in herself. Rachelle watched as her daughters grew to be able to make quick decisions with the same sureness that she experienced when making a decision. Rachelle was proud as her daughters were chosen as captains in their clubs and teams.
As her daughters continued to grow, Rachelle made less and less decisions for them. Sometimes they made correct decisions, sometimes they did not. Rachelle noticed that the more freedom in decision making she gave her daughters, the more her daughters sought her for advice. When they came to her for help, Rachelle was careful to help the girls weigh the outcomes of the decisions, but left the decision making to them.
As the girls neared their eighteenth birthdays, they were invited to some parties. Rachelle knew there would be alcohol at the parties. Although the girls would probably make a good decision and not drink, Rachelle refused to let them attend the party. Rachelle knew that purposefully placing the girls in harm’s way, just so they could take themselves out of harm’s way, was wrong. They would not grow from the experience. They would grow from the experience of watching their mother set appropriate boundaries.
As the girls neared graduation. They sought after boyfriends that respected their ability to make their own decisions. They did not feel comfortable around controlling boys and stayed away from them. The girls also set firm boundaries with themselves. They desired to emulate their mother and desired to respect the boundaries that she had set.