Some would say safety. This is true for a while, especially when our children are little. But how do we teach safety? Is it just by dictating boundaries and rules? Or do we spend time teaching about choices and consequences? Do we allow our children to be exposed to any form of risk?
When we help our children learn to walk, we know they are going to fall down at least once, right? More like a thousand times. Should a parent try and prevent the fall? After a few falls, do we start to yell at our children because they are not getting it as fast as we feel they should? Or do we encourage and build hope in the effort?
Do we ever sit down with our children and discuss what a productive life even looks like? I get that this varies dramatically. Some parents would argue that success is landing a great job, and others would simply say it’s staying out of jail. Do we push our children toward our unfulfilled dreams? Or do we learn what their dreams are and support them in pursuing those dreams?
How do we mentor when we argue over the basic issues in the home? Do parents build a foundation of good and strong communication with their child? Can your child bring a crisis to your doorstep and find a safe shelter from life’s storms?
The truth is, we cannot always protect our children; there is just too much risk in life to even consider that possibility. But we can validate them, encourage them, and help them by asking questions rather than talking at them and rejecting them. My goal is to help my children to think. Ask questions and then find the answers together.
Mark is a Marine and a 23 year veteran of the LA County Sheriff's Department. He has been recognized by the State Senate, US Congress and the Governor of California for his work in juvenile intervention.