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When no is the only answer; letting your teenager learn from their own mistakes

It is very hard as a parent to let go of a child, and allow them to grow up, make mistakes, and possibly get hurt. Teenagers as they grow up may well get themselves into trouble, and parents naturally assume that it is their job to get the teen out of trouble. On a one-off basis this may be true, but what do you do with a child that is continually in trouble, do you keep bailing them out, and handling it for them? Teenagers will fight with their parents over many issues; a classic recurring argument is curfew time.

The teenager sees the parents' objections to them staying out late as the fuddy duddy parent spoiling their fun. In turn, the parent sees the teenagers' definition of fun, including alcohol, drugs and possibly promiscuous behavior. The teenager then decides the parent does not trust them, and the parent, if they are honest, does not, entirely, because they do not believe that their teen will resist all temptation. After much back and forth, a curfew is agreed and lo and behold the teenager breaks curfew and the parent grounds them. Simple lesson learned, break the rules, and get punished.

The next time, the teenager does not turn up at curfew time and the parent cannot get hold of them. Fear takes over, allayed only by the phone call from the police precinct to say the teen is there in a cell, drunk, would the parent like to collect them? In fear and anger the parent collects the teen and this time the punishment is more severe, grounding for a month, withdrawal of privileges.

The next time the parent receives a phone call from the police they go down to the station and talk to the police about what has happened. This time, the parent leaves their teenager in the cell, the next morning they refuse to collect them; the teenager has to deal with the consequences of their behavior without help from the parent. To each plea to come and help them the parent says, no. the teenager will be furious with the parent, but the parent needs to explain, that adult behavior, like drinking, is their responsibility, if they mess up they deal with it. This is a tough lesson to learn for the teenager, and even harder for the parent to deliver; in the end, a parent can only do so much before the teenager needs to be responsible for their own actions., this is how teenagers learn to become adults.

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