Be Careful Of Telling Them To Be Careful

You’re just trying to keep them safe. You’re just trying to help them. You’re just trying to look out for them. So you say or scream or text.

Be careful!

But you know what you’re really doing?

You’re putting a voice in their head. A voice of nervousness and worry and anxiety. A voice that prevents them from trying and risking. A voice that steers them into always doing the safe and easy thing.

We’ve talked about how we have to be careful of the implications of the words we throw around. We have to always consider how our kids will interpret them. We’ve talked about how we have to let them do difficult and dangerous things. Luctor et emergo—we have to let them struggle and emerge.

So, we also have to find better ways to communicate when we are worried about them. We can say, notice how slippery the driveway is. Or, try taking little steps first. We can ask them, does that branch seem sturdy? Or, do you feel how hot it is this close to the fire? Or, if you made it to the top of the tree, what would be your plan for getting down? And we can say the same when they want to drop out of college.

Instead of being careful, teach them to be aware. Instead of avoiding difficulty, teach them to be problem-solvers. Teach them how to take chances, to get up when they fall, to learn from experiences…to live.

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