Raising Responsible Teenagers


I received a text from my fourteen year old yesterday saying, “Bring $5 to my school.” How he is able to text at school? I’m not sure.

Anyhow, I respond back, “Why?”

“Because I want my yearbook, and I can’t get it until I pay the $5 fine in late fees to the library.”

It takes me five minutes to walk to the junior high. My first reaction was that it was close and not that big of a deal. I happen to be eating breakfast with my husband when I received the text. He must have noticed the look in my eyes when I received the text. He said, “You are not going to drop everything to bring him the money are you?” Then, he said one of his famous sayings, “His lack of planning is not your sense of urgency.”

I sat back and thought about my husband’s words. He was completely correct. What was I teaching him if I dropped everything to rescue him? As “good” parents, we always want to save our children. We never want to see them get hurt or go through pain. The problem with this is how will they learn without natural consequences?

I sent my son a text back saying, “You will pay the $5 out of your money, and you will come home to grab the money and either bring it to the school today after school or in the morning.” He came home grumpy and complained about why I couldn’t just help him out. I told him that I wasn’t teaching him to be a responsible adult one day. He needed to plan better and take care of his problems (The problem in the first place was that he should have turned his library book in on time!).

The end of the story is that my son chose to not bring the $5 at the end of the day, and I received another next this morning from him saying, “Could you bring my $5 from my pants pocket in my bathroom?”

Without the help of my husband, I responded back, “You have two choses. You can either come home after school to pick up the money and pay your fee or you can pay me $2 (I’ll take 40% interest!) for my time if I drop it off.” He agreed (sadly) to pay the $2, but he will be able to attend his after school yearbook signing party today. His irresponsibility cost him, but I hope this small lesson will save him from bigger “natural” lessons later in life!

Let your children suffer natural consequences (as long as they won’t be harmed- like getting hit by a car!). They will hopefully become better/stronger young adults because of it.

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