Wisdom in decisions… I don’t believe you can ever know without a doubt whether a decision is the right one or not. Part of the formula in making wise decisions is having them centered in solid principles and thinking through the potential impact.
Making decisions in raising teenagers is even more challenging. There is a constant tug between giving freedom while keeping reasonable boundaries. Saying “you have to be responsible to get responsibility” is about as meaningful as shouting it into an empty canyon; your echo will resonate yet nothing will change.
The realization hit me earlier this year. Raising teens is not necessarily about trying to effect their actions today but at later time, 10 or 20 years from now. Things we say today will resonate more clearly with them as young adults. A light will go off, and the guidance will have hit pay-off time.
The balance in raising teens is in guiding them today, as much as possible, but really setting the principles and lessons which will trigger their actions later on in their life. It is being mindful of the 20-year effect and not getting overly frustrated today.
Earlier this year, I told my teen son that he had to participate in a mission trip this summer. I didn’t care what it was through, but he needed to do something which stretched his actions and gave back in some way. It sounds like an easy decision; it was for me, not necessarily for him.
I took a lot of grief. Why are you torturing me to do such a thing? No one else is! What is wrong with you? Other parents are not making their kids do this. You are too religious. You will ruin my summer.
I heard it all. I ignored the pleas and kept to the higher standard. It was not a religious thing. It was about getting him out of his comfort zone, meeting other youth, seeing another part of life, and giving back.
In the end, he went. In the end, he enjoyed it.
By all accounts, he worked hard. He enjoyed helping another family re-build their home and a part of their life. He enjoyed the relationship formed with the family. He liked doing his part, contributing.
In my mind (my hope), a seed was planted about the importance of helping others, giving your time for causes outside of your normal life. I don’t know if it was a wise decision, but the immediate result was good. More importantly, I am wagering on a larger return in what is applied later on by him, maybe in 20 years from now.
The wisest decisions aren’t always the easiest or the most clear. There no wise decision indicators on the market today. The key is to make the decisions as best you can, let them age, and time will tell if they were wise.