Parenting is a fine line between encouraging and controlling a child. I want my children to make good decisions so I give them information from all sides of an issue. Listening to how they feel and what they think helps me understand how they are doing. I ask what happens beyond the current decision. Mostly I try to give them room to make mistakes and discover consequences on their own. They need me to encourage vs control.
Encouraging not controlling
I started giving my children choices as soon as I could. My daughters picked their own clothing style. I tried to accommodate it as much as I could within a budget. My son chose his own reading materials. During the early years we explored as many subjects as we could, all aspects of science and math, history and English. Later in middle school and high school, they asked my opinion on which classes to take. I asked what they needed to graduate and what they wanted to learn.
My approach to parenting is different than some. I try not to control their behavior but listen to their words, their expressions, and their body language. I tried to help them talk through their decisions by bringing up possible courses of action or dangers.
Encouragement allows them to develop their own self-control and their own ability to make rational decisions. It gives them a chance to fail when the consequences are small. They didn’t feel the need to rebel or break out when they were in college.
My children are all young adults with jobs and bills. They have graduated college. They are making choices. I don’t have to question their decisions because I trust they are thinking through their options. I’ve seen them go through the process in thousands of decisions over many years.
Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. Ephesians 6:4
Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost. Proverbs 22:6