Raising a free critical thinking child.
You are doing the right thing and although it will be difficult at times. As parents we are not here to be idolised and worshipped by our children for always being the good guys. We are meant to be giving them the best possible chance we can in life. It all works out in the end. Let them think for themselves early and make the mistakes they need to learn from. This can be difficult to watch them fall and get hurt at times as we knowingly sit back and let them take the more difficult path that we see their future being not such a great result for them.
I always informed my boy of the things he wasn't seeing, giving him the best advice I could then let him work with that to make his own informed decisions. Even when I saw him make bad choices after council, he knew the consequences to his actions that were coming. He may not have fully comprehend them or even believed they were a possibility but he was aware of their existence and I had done my job as a parent giving him the best guidance I possibly could have.
I always told him you don't have to do anything in this world but there are always consequences to your actions. You can do or not do anything you like in this world but there are always consequences. Good or bad. But you always have a choice. I let him fall on his face many times after giving him advice he chose to ignore thinking I was just an old fart and he knew so much better than. Much the same as we all did growing up when we chose to ignore our elders. Simply put we did not yet fully comprehend their wisdom.
If we can't grasp a certain concept in life through being handed informative knowledge then the only other way to learn is through our experiences. That's how we all learn. Some things we learn the easy way, others the hard way. As long as he was not hurting others and not going to bring himself to much harm. Let them go. Only a few times I put my foot down and said its not happening that way boy cos I'm the boss round here and I said so. He always respected when I was firm in this way as it was not very often. If you try be the boss constantly it loses its impact and validity when it is really important. Like the catholic school girls story. How they are so suppressed they have no idea about the world and its consequences that they are often the ones who grow up and the moment they are unsupervised as young adults and free. They are often the ones who dance half naked on the table at a bar.
My boy was often rebellious towards me thinking he knew best, he learned plenty of lessons the hard way. But at the time he was young so the repercussions weren't so bad, certainly they weren't going to ruin his life or future wellbeing or If they were those are the times I chose to play dad and put the brakes on things. With or without his full consent, I was always still the dad in this relationship.
Now he's a young adult he tends to seek my advise, he takes it in and tends to be wise and listen. Sometimes I give him unwarranted council just because I'm his dad, I care for him. He does not argue with me when I do this. He often does not comprehend where I'm coming from at these times. If he did he would not need me to do this in the first place. He takes it in because he's a thinker and knows I won't fight him on anything anyway. I simply give him the truth and due to his past experience with my truth he knows I have no vested interest in his out come as I have always told him. He can't hurt me if he suffers that is his suffering to deal with not mine.
When he was a boy and even now that still stands and I will love him anyway but he must be the one to endure the outcome of his failings not me. Although even still now and always back then. I am always here to pick up the pieces with him to help him get past these issues he causes himself in life weather by his own doing or external forces in the best possible way he can. He knows I will always offer him solutions to help him best deal with these times of term oil throughout his life.
He may not always comprehend things I teach him even though he listens. My proudest moments of him in these instances are when he comes back to me sometimes months down the track or even other times years and says. "Hey dad! I finally get what you were saying now." Often I have forgotten what I've said and is only now ever so important to him and ask him to remind me. Saying to him. " Oh what now son I've said many things to you, what was it I said my boy that you found so enlightening?" We both chuckle at this same never changing dear old dad condescending joke of mine, with its nonchalant tone. Because it is certainly not the first time he's heard these words cross my lips to his ears. He reminds me and then tells me what conclusion he had drawn from this or even how it has helped him. Most proud of him when he actually adds to this and I find some enlightening wisdom from his discoveries. This does happen fairly often where he gets to educate me in some manner and I get to learn from him.
This learning from him thing not only happens when he has lightbulb moments encouraged from some long ago wisdom I've once shared to him. Being the free critical thinking confident being he has now grown into. The roles sometimes change and he is known by me to interject sharing some enlightening wisdom of his own. I've created a monster and sometimes have to take on board his input or advice. Extremely proud of him when he educates me. I find it keeps me very in touch with today's younger generation on many levels that would not otherwise be known to me if I did not have this kind of very free open communication with him in our relationship. Other times it enables me to see what's on his mind and pull him up to give him a bit more information on his view point. In any case it has given us a chance to work together and grow together. We don't talk a lot and live in different distant locations but when ever needed we are there for each other and to me that is what all family is meant to be.
So while I didn't totally dominate and rule over him as a young child or even as a young teen. I preferred to give him good well rounded advice as to what could come of his doings or his way of thinking, it has given me the perfect opportunity to help out at present and future when he really needs it most and the repercussions can be long term life damaging at this age if he doesn't pay attention and live in the correct manner. Being a parent never stops. It is way more important to have this kind of trust in our relationship in these years than ever when they are so little.
A harsh lesson learned. I told him to always put long trousers on when he rode his motorcycle. Many times I had to remind him. One day he chose to cheat the rules and put long shorts on. He fell the bike landed on top of him burned his lower leg. He tried to give me excuses for this. The result was we were leaving for a holiday to explore caves and water falls in the rainforest. Well he got to watch me swim in them while he was not allowed to get his wounds wet. I always made him responsible for his actions he ruined his holiday not anyone else's. Was only a miserable face during short swims. The rest of the time he had a blast.
A good example of something I taught him once around age ten. I overheard him with his friends say a particular girl at school was fat. Later I pulled him aside to explain to him that girls can develop eating disorders and all sort of issues due to this. I went into detail of the many things this can cause in others as well as other forms of teasing people. I explained that you are not always aware of how others feelings can take on long term effects throughout their lives. Then I asked him would you like to be responsible for a person going through such things due to something dumb you said thinking it meant very little to them? Then I explained to him that if he hears his friends talking like this. It is now his job to explain things to them to help the people. To this day I've never seen him tease people or speak badly of them to perpetuate this kind of behaviour.
We talk about things these days from his childhood and he says although he was never treated unfairly that at times he hated me for not being like other parents. Although now he looks around at others his age and sees them mostly as very confused and lost. He now says that he is very thankful for the way I raised him to stand alone and be strong in this world. Myself I was a street kid raised myself for the most part, when I had a family they paid little attention to me often I would not see them for days at a time I was left alone. So I know how important it is to be independent because the world is not a gentle place and it owes you no favours regardless of who you are or your unhappy upbringing. I raised him to be independent strong loving caring and most importantly a survivor.
My son has every right to be proud of the way he's turned out. He's not, he's very humble in his state of awareness. He's a good honest young man that cares about the well being of others. He thinks for himself being very competent to stand on his own two feet. That's the way I wanted him because I may not always be around to ️baby him and I know he will pass this on to his children when that time comes. I'm not proud of myself for the way he's turned out as I had little to do with that. All I did was give him the best possible chance to grow into whatever he chose to become. But at the end of the day, he made good choices with what I gave him, he did all the work to become this way not me.