My favorite movie in all the world is Braveheart.
Every time I watch it, I want to sign up again to put on my kilt and serve in William Wallace’s army to fight for the freedom of Scotland.
Freedom is powerful. We all want freedom. Do you know who wants it the most?
Your teenager is counting down the days to the time they can control their own life. Can you remember when you had the same burning desire?
Now that you have achieved it you know that freedom carries with it the responsibility of a mortgage, bills, and the stresses of life. But when you are a teenager freedom is a promised land where there are no problems or curfews.
The English word freedom is related to the word “Autonomy”. This word is birthed from two greek words. They are “Auto” which means “myself” and “Nomos” which means “to rule”. So the definition of freedom is to rule yourself.
This should shape your parenting philosophy like no other thought. As a parent of a teenager your primary task is to teach your teenager how to rule themselves.
Here are 3 things that you must do to let them learn to rule themselves:
1. Let them fail. You can’t succeed unless you experience failure and learn from it. You keep them from freedom when you protect them from failure.
2. Let them hurt. Your teenager will never be free until they know how to respond to pain in a healthy way. Now there is a difference between pain that leaves lasting consequences and pain that forces them to face temporary consequences. I encourage you as a parent to avoid saving your teenager from temporary consequences. Instead use it as an opportunity to let them feel pain and learn to respond to it in a healthy way.
3. Let them be responsible. Your teenager wants freedom without responsibility. This is a fantasy that does not exist. It should be your mission to train your teenager to care for themselves. If you are still doing their laundry, making their lunch, or cleaning their room you are blocking them from entering the freedom of adulthood. To introduce responsibility is to paint an accurate picture of freedom for your teenager.
Do you want to change your relationship with your teenager today by asking one question? Then here it is: Ask them, “Would you like to have more freedom?”
After you hear their affirmative response then take advantage of the moment to very specifically lay out a few things they can do to earn your trust. Make these objectives highly possible for your teenager to achieve so that they have hope that they can do it. Then outline with them very specific freedoms you are willing to offer to them in exchange for their trust building achievements.
Instead of unintentionally blocking their path to freedom, you will set them up to act like little adults during their junior and senior years. Then when graduation (aka Independence Day) comes you can send them out into the world with peace of mind.
This is called the Trust Economy and it is our THIRD BRIDGE BUILDER. Next month in the Premium Content section I will outline for you how to completely revolutionize the relationship with your teenager by establishing the Trust Economy.