“I want to do both of these musicals! I have to!” My teen exclaimed after school one day. She had recently gotten into theater and wanted to audition for both the high school musical and the community theater musical. I could see where this was going. “Are you sure you want to do that? It might be a lot to handle with rehearsal almost every night, going from one to the other, and barely squeezing in dinner.” She replied, “No problem! I’d love doing that!
Before I could argue, I remembered these wise words from a friend: “Don’t give teens advice or opinions unless they’re asked for.” And although this was rather hard to swallow, I paused to consider it. This wasn’t my M.O., I admit. Most of the time, I shared all my opinions with my kids and even semi-forced them to do what I thought was best. But this time, I didn’t—which is how I learned the 3 surprising benefits moms experience when they let teens make their own decisions.
1. It’ll free you from blame.
When my teen auditioned for the musicals, she landed the lead role in one and a supporting lead role in another. This meant a ton of rehearsals and memorization. While it was thrilling at first, as weeks went by, she became exhausted, finding very little time for homework or friends. She came to me and said, “Wow. I think after these are over, I need to just do one at a time.” I smiled sympathetically and said, “Well, that makes sense.” And that was it.
If you don’t force your opinion on your teen, then your teen can’t blame you when it turns out to be a bad choice. The beautiful thing about teens and decision-making is it forces them to take ownership of the situation, and therefore, to learn from it.
2. It’ll free you to have more headspace for yourself.
I admit, the first time I tried this approach, it was difficult to stop thinking about the red flags and let it play out, consequences and all. But green-lighting teens and decision-making gets easier over time and eventually, you really will feel like you have the capacity, the headspace, to do some of the things you love! Maybe you’ll feel freer to play your favorite music on the drive home and sing at the top of your lungs, think creatively about work, or invest in your friendships.
You get to think about what you want and need to do, rather than spending all your time persuading or arguing with your teen.
3. It’ll free you to be sought out and heard.
The next time my daughter wanted to make a big commitment, she asked me if I thought it would be too much for her. I could see a difference in her whole demeanor when she came to me; she really wanted to talk it over. It felt good.
Your teen will seek you out and actually listen to what you have to say. And bonus: You appear less needy to her.
The truth is, your kids’ choices are not your successes, and they are not your failures. While they’re still living at home, you get to be the safe place to crash-land when they regret a choice, and the one they celebrate with when they make a good choice. Either way, just be there.Your kids' choices are not your successes, and they are not your failures. Click To Tweet
What have you learned about teens and decision-making over the years? Do you hesitate to let your teenagers make their own choices?