Saturday, April 24, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Daddy Will Fix It: Facing Consequences - by Dr. Jenn Berman

When you help your children understand at an early age that they are responsible for the choices they make as well as for the consequences of their actions, you promote a sense of mastery and self-confidence in them.

One of the most difficult tasks for parents is allowing their kids to suffer the consequences of their choices and actions. But in order for children to grow up to become responsible adults, they need to know how to deal with these kinds of consequences. It is a crucial developmental step for them to take.

Mark, a college student, was sent to me by his parents because they were concerned about his pot smoking and poor grades. Mark, who was clearly very bright and got fantastic SAT scores, was completely unmotivated. He attended an expensive private college with a great academic reputation. When I asked him what he planned to do after college he told me he would go to law school.

“How are you going to get into law school?” I asked him. “You are barely passing your classes right now, and law school is highly competitive.”
“My dad has connections. He can buy me a spot in at least three of the top schools,” he told me.

Apparently Mark’s dad had already bought his son’s way into his current school. Up to that point, Mark had never had to face any of the consequences of his actions. If he forgot his homework his mother brought it, if he forgot his lunch the maid brought it, if he forgot to feed his goldfish and it died he was given a new fish. Now mom and dad were still getting him out of trouble, and at the age of nineteen Mark had no life skills, no discipline, and no motivation. Had Mark suffered the consequences of his actions at an earlier age, he would have learned to apply himself. Adversity leads to growth. If you allow your children to suffer the consequences of bad choices, they will learn to make better choices. Protecting kids from those kinds of consequences only retards their ability to develop into responsible adults.

Excerpted from the book The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids © copyright 2007 by Dr. Jenn Berman. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.

Dr. Jenn Berman is a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist in private practice in Los Angeles. She is the author of the Los Angeles Times best-selling book The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids which won the Mom’s Choice Award gold medal in parenting. She is also the author of SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years and the co-author of the children’s book Rockin’ Babies. Her “Dr. Jenn” parenting column runs in Los Angeles Family Magazine and elsewhere and won a Parenting Publications of America award. She is also on the Board of Advisors for Parents Magazine. Dr. Jenn has appeared on television including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, The Early Show, etc. She currently hosts a call-in advice show on Sirius/XM’s Cosmo Radio. Dr. Jenn has an eco-friendly clothing line for adults and children called Retail Therapy. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and twin daughters. For more information, visit

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