When it comes to raising children, I find a hardest part is watching your child fail, or make mistakes. Things I know I should not do. Things that they know they should not do, but inevitably, they end up doing anyway.
I watched both my kids burn their hands on the stove, right after I told them not to touch it. I was there to wipe their tears and apply aloe to the burn, while I said, “I told you not to do that.” I watched them run in the backyard with no shoes on and step on a bee. I sat there picking out the stinger from their foot while saying, “I told you not to do that.” I watched them rough house on the family room floor, until one was hit in the face. I would apply an ice pack and say, “I told you not to do that.”
It seems that learning and good judgement come from making mistakes. I can tell them a hundred times to wear their coat when it’s cold out. They smile at me as if to say, “Mother, how kind you are to care so deeply for me. You are very sweet, but I know my body better than you do, and I can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at it.” I shake my head as the door closes.
It only takes a couple of minutes for them to return. They snatch their coat from the hook with a scowl and a glare, indicating that I not, under any circumstances say, “I told you so.” I sometimes can’t help but jibe them by saying, “You might need a hat.”
We all need to make some mistakes in order to learn. Our experiences, be it good or bad, play a huge role in how we make decisions in the future.
My kids are older and I don’t have to warn them as much about minor hazards. My tall son learned very quickly to duck his head when entering the low ceiling hallway to our basement. I never had to say a thing.
Now, as they grow into young adults, I worry and warn them about other issues. I tell them to save their money and spend it wisely, or they will end up with nothing left. I explain how college can be fun, but they need to focus and work hard, or they won’t get good grades and graduate. I warn them that falling in love is fantastic, but it can hurt something fierce when it ends.
I know that no matter what I say, they won’t understand until they experience these things for themselves. I will have to watch them make mistakes and I hope that they learn from them. No matter the outcome, I will be ready when they need a shoulder to cry on or a congratulatory hug. I found from my own experience, it’s what works best .