The day your child turns 18, everything changes. For example, he or she can buy cigarettes, marry, and is responsible in a court of law. Becoming an adult is something that has been happening to him or her already in life. As parents, much of our responsibility involves facilitating this development. Eighteen years doesn’t seem like quite enough time. And yet, you have much less time than you might think.
Adult Themes Don’t Have a Legal Age
For starters, biology delays nothing for 18 candles. We’ve got to be having serious talks before bodies naturally plunge into sexual maturity. Unfortunately, we have a responsibility to educate our children about the dangers in this area as well. I think kids need to have age-appropriate awareness of serious issues. Problems like rape, human trafficking, and pornography can affect his or her life and should be discussed.
At 16 your child may drive and enter the workplace. Last year was the first time my son drove away from our home by himself. He was out on the busy roads surrounded by people who would likely pay him no extra kindnesses for any foolish mistakes. There was no “Baby on Board” sticker attached to his bumper, and no one but me felt he was still a baby. As he drove away, I wondered if I had done enough to prepare him. This is the stage a child should be effectively functioning as an adult, just as an intern practices for a time before becoming an independent worker.
In some states, children can’t even stay alone in their homes until age 14, yet they can obtain a license and drive at 16. I’m not arguing for a later driving age, though. At 14, my son scarcely required my physical protection anymore. He exceeded both my size and strength by then. I’m arguing that we’re refusing to give our kids a transition period between childhood and adulthood.
Experience Consequences During Childhood
My husband used to work in an office where they made helmets for babies who had surgery on their skull for a prematurely closing fontanelle. A surgeon would create space for the baby’s brain to grow and my husband would make the helmet to protect the child’s head as he or she healed. This is a wonderful medical advancement for these children, but an interesting thing happened when the babies would have their helmets finally removed. They were so used to the protection the helmet offered that they would often injure themselves. They had grown accustomed to the protection that was no longer there. Parents were cautioned to watch their child carefully until he or she experienced a few head bumps and understood the new boundaries.
It may be tempting to put the comfort of our children ahead of their development into adults. Certainly, protecting our kids is a crucial aspect of parenting as well. But, let us be careful not to soften every blow. Pain is a necessary safety precaution, and a small amount can prevent a more serious injury. If we deprive our kids of consequences, there may be greater pain later on.