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Mistakes Made On-Line: Affordable or Not?

“Hope and pray every day that your kids make plenty of mistakes when they are young…when the “price tags” are affordable.”
Since the 1970’s, we’ve repeated this statement thousands of times. Why? Simply because children allowed to learn by making affordable mistakes are less likely to make life and death ones later on. We learn most of the important lessons in life, not by being lectured, but by experiencing the consequences of our decisions.
So…should we be hoping and praying that our kids chat with predators on-line, stumble upon pornography, become so addicted to video games that they miss out on life, text while driving, etc.? Absolutely not!
Wise parents yank their children back onto the sidewalk when they begin to dart into traffic.
Likewise, they do whatever they can to prevent their kids from making
unaffordable mistakes with technology.
One of the most challenging aspects of parenting is striking a balance between over-protection and allowing children to make healthy mistakes. Further complicating matters is the fact that we can’t completely ensure that our kids won’t get sneaky and make unaffordable ones.
We can up the odds of success by doing the following:
•   Humbly admit to our kids that we can't always watch them and keep them from messing up THEIR OWN lives. This allows them to understand that rebelling hurts THEM…not us.
•   By consistently using sincere empathy, show them that they can talk to us about their mistakes, temptations, etc. Don't force them to keep secrets.
•   Allow them to have their computer, tablet, phone, etc. as long as they don't hibernate in their rooms with them, as long as they place them in a basket next to our bed at night, and as long as they don't argue about these and other limits we set.
•   Remind ourselves that setting these limits doesn't guarantee success, but it does show our kids that we love them enough to keep them safe.
For more suggestions to help avoid pre-teen and teenage power struggles, check out Trouble-free Teens.

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Dr. Charles Fay
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