Parenting with Natural Consequences
Being a parent is definitely one of the hardest jobs out there. Every child is different, and, despite what the “experts” tell you, there is not a one-size-fits-all-situations consequence. Sometimes, a child just needs to have a discussion about what happened and how they can do better next time. Other times, they need to have privileges removed for a time or do extra chores. And then there’s my personal favorite: natural consequences.
Natural consequences are, in my opinion, the best way for a child (or anyone) to learn from their mistakes. It requires no effort on the parents’ part beyond wiping away some tears as your child bemoans their situation. This is especially effective if you have told your child many times to do or not do something and they did not follow through. I hope it is obvious that allowing natural consequences to happen as a result of not following safety rules is not advised. In my house, safety is non-negotiable.
A recent example is my son. He bought an older vehicle as his first car and it needed some repairs. My husband willingly helped him with the work and our son learned a lot about his car during that time. Over the winter, my husband noticed that our son’s car needed to have the u-joints replaced. “Either you buy the parts and we’ll put them on, or you need to take it to the shop and have them do it. But it needs to be done,” he said. Over and over he said it until he finally quit reminding our son.
The dear boy was driving to work the other day and his u-joint failed while he was on the highway. A part flew off and went through the windshield on the passenger side of the car behind him. There wasn’t a passenger and no one was hurt, thank goodness! However, the u-joint failing also caused the driveline to become unattached. I am unclear of the full extent of the damage, due to my lack of auto mechanic knowledge, but my husband said that it’s going to be expensive to fix and, quite possibly, the parts are going to be almost impossible to find. Our son was hoping to sell his car before he left for college.
That afternoon was a headache, to say the least. It was over 100 degrees outside and I drove to the scene to pick up my son and help him navigate the process. We stood outside for almost an hour because the other driver called the police since he didn’t know what to do in this situation. Then, we drove home to contact the insurance company. If I had remembered that we had roadside assistance through our insurance while still at the scene, I wouldn’t have had to drive back to meet the tow truck. It was hot. I was planning on taking the other kids to the lake. The disruption was definitely not welcome.
The natural consequence of our son not doing what his father told him to do is that he now no longer has his own vehicle and it is going to cost him more money to repair it. He won’t be able to sell it for more than a few hundred dollars, so he is losing money there, too. He is going to be responsible for paying any increase in insurance costs. He is also missing out on the money he could have earned had he made it to work that day. Both my husband and I told him that if he had listened and done what he was told, this wouldn’t have happened. Then, we left it at that to allow the natural consequences to have their effect.
Of course, since the insurance policy is in our name, I am having to do some administrative tasks associated with this situation. In return for my time and inconvenience, my son is doing some extra chores around the house. After all, I only have him for a few more days before he’s off to college. I’ll miss him, but I do hope he learned from this experience.