It’s hard to raise children in the Miley Cyrus “do what we want to” society. I could take the time to find the real name to that song, but I just don’t want to. I usually change the station whenever it comes on the radio. Mostly because I’d get a mental image of twerking and oversized stuffed animals and there’s not enough bleach for my brain. But also because I’m trying to teach my kids about consequences. Because that’s a real part of life. The kind of real life that not everyone likes to talk about.
My dad used to make a big deal about reminding us kids about consequences. And even if we rolled our eyes every time you brought it up, Dad…we listened. I didn’t have a conference call just now with all my siblings, I’m totally basing this on the lives that we all lead. We actually paid attention to what you said and all five of us are upstanding citizens raising kids that are looking like they will carry on the Upstanding Citizens title.
Because of consequences. And the knowledge that every choice and every decision has a consequence.
Oftentimes, when we hear the word “consequence” we immediately think of a bad result of something we did.
I drove to fast. Thanks for the ticket, Mr. Policeman!
I lied to my mom. Now I’m in trouble.
I ate that giant cupcake. Now my giant ass is gianter.
But all consequences aren’t bad. Making good choices and good decisions lead to, sometimes, the most amazing consequences.
I worked hard on that project. I feel accomplished and people respect my work.
I washed my windshield. Holy crap, I can actually see out this window.
I hugged my child instead of yelling. We both feel better and are actually talking out the problem.
Don’t get me wrong…none of us are perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes.
That’s not what this is about. It’s the mentality that so many people have that what they do doesn’t matter. That they can “do what they want to” and no one else is affected.
“It’s our life and we can do what we want to.”
That’s true. It is yours and you can. And you can sing with your tongue hanging out and twerk your way through life doing all the things you want.
But there are consequences. Even if it’s only complete and total shame when looking back 20 years from now. (But, then again, maybe no one will care.)
Telling your kids they can be anything they want is absolutely true. But I don’t believe that gives them a free pass to do whatever they want. And I have reached this level of frustration that I can’t even explain. I just feel it. I feel it every time I see something in the news where “doing what you want” lands a group of college kids in jail and lives ruined. Or when I hear about a middle school aged child bringing a weapon to school. When someone drives under the influence. When a celebrity (and countless others) die of a drug overdose. Or when someone doesn’t pay attention to where they start their campfire.
There are consequences. Sometimes terrible and tragic and sad ones.
I know there are extenuating circumstances that can’t all be addressed here. There are exceptions to my rant and I do try to find compassion for those that can’t understand. Or who haven’t been given the tools to understand.
My frustration comes from the blatant disregard for life’s consequences. Those that seek to hurt others. To break rules without caring. Or those that just don’t care in general. We are not invincible. And our actions affect other people.
In our family, we talk a lot about choices. Making good choices. How happiness is a choice. And how our choices and decisions have consequences.
With all the songs and TV shows and news reports that give examples otherwise, I hope it’s enough. I hope my conversations matter to my kids. Even if they just humor me right now (yeah, sorry about that Dad) I hope that it leaves an impression on them like it did me. I hope they can remember just how important consequences are.