Parenting a teenager is a tough job. Since my teenage son has not been packing his lunches for school, he is beginning to understand what responsibility looks like as he experiences hunger during lunch. Should I feel guilty about not taking time off work to take him a lunch while also spending extra money on fast food because he didn’t think about preparing lunch ahead of time? Absolutely NOT.

As they get older, children have to learn responsibility. Picking up the pieces when our children fail to prepare enables them, and it doesn’t give them a chance to grow, learn or teach them responsibility.

As a parent, I don’t want my son to be hungry – but I also don’t want him to grow up and think that my world revolves around him or that his needs are more important than my own. What I hope he eventually learns through this experience is that he is the conductor of his own orchestra. He is capable, smart, and in the position to direct the music how he chooses. If he doesn’t want to be hungry at lunchtime, he will either have to pack it at night or get up early enough to pack it before he leaves each day.

As a parent, I believe it is my job to have food at home; however, it is not my job to enable my son. I know his future wife will appreciate the lessons he is learning early.

Here are some things you may want to consider the next time your teenager does not prepare:

  1. Scenario One: Your teenager calls because they forgot to bring their folder to school. Education is important and part of educating our teens is teaching responsibility. We want them to make good grades, but failing is a lesson they should learn early. If they forgot their folder and you don’t take it to school, what are the consequences? Let them deal with it. They will learn the lesson soon enough.
  2. Scenario Two: Your teenager calls because they need additional money on their bank card to eat out after a game with friends. Well, your teenager knew they didn’t have money before they made plans to go to the game – and their emergency does not constitute an emergency on your end. Think about the consequences and your child’s future behavior if you put money on the card.
  3. Scenario Three: Your teenager chooses not to wash clothes and has to wear dirty clothes to school. This is a personal issue. If the stench does not teach them a lesson, having to go to school in smelly clothing will, as someone will bring it to their attention. As teens, they do not want to stand out but fit in, so this lesson will work itself out.

Finally, remember to breathe. Everything can be a teachable moment for teens. I have to ask myself when situations occur, is it a battle for me or can I let things play out for my teen to learn the lesson on his own through natural consequences? You got this!

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