††††† ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

CONSEQUENTLY BETTER

Jon is a good kid.

And Iím not just saying that because Iím his father.You can ask anybody who knows him Ė even his 9th grade math teacher, who probably remembers him as sort of a slacker, but a good kid nonetheless.

But even a good kid can have a bad week.

And for Jon, last week was a bad week.

It started out pretty well. He has a part in his high schoolís production of ďLes Miserables,Ē and last week was the start of performances.It was all fun and exciting until he found out that the girl he was going to ask to the junior prom had already been asked.

And that was OK.I mean, stuff like that happens.No big deal, right?

But then a series of bad choices started complicating his life.Not horrific choices.Nothing life-altering or overwhelmingly devastating in and of itself.Just a series of dumb teenage decisions.For example, heís had a communication problem with his parents Ė he doesnít tell us where heís going and what heís doing and who heís doing it with Ė and that sort of came to a head last week.I wonít go into detail.Letís just say he is pretty much grounded for the rest of the year and let it go at that, shall we?

Then we let him take the car to do some church service (ostensibly) and he ended up somewhere other than where he was supposed to be (see communication problem, above) and pulling out in front of a car that had the right of way.Thankfully, no one was injured in the accident.But now he has a citation to pay for and damages to two cars with which to deal.And now he is grounded for the rest of the decade.

Then yesterday his mother went to the video store and found out that Jon had rented some video games (not a problem) and had incurred late fees totaling $50 (a SERIOUS problem).So in the space of four days Jon has lost his prom date, his freedom, his driving privileges and all the money he will earn for the next three years.And heís grounded through the rest of the century, or until the Cubs win the World Series.Whichever comes first.

The thing is, Jon really is a good kid.You canít help but pull for him and want good things to happen for him.And they probably will Ė eventually.But Jon is learning the hard way that even good people can make bad choices.And when they do, they have to face the consequences of those choices.

Of course, as Jonís father I want whatís best for my child.But sometimes I forget that whatís best for him isnít always comfortable or pleasant. I have a tendency to want to make his life easier, even when he is experiencing the consequences of bad choices Ė even when I myself have imposed those consequences.Iím notorious for grounding him for life, then feeling bad for him and letting him go out with friends that night Ė which lately has led to more bad choices.

So actually Iím not really helping him when I do that, am I? The fact is, Iím probably hurting him by interfering with the lessons life is trying so hard to teach him.And Iím crippling him against the time when Iím not around any more, or I canít make the bad stuff go away.

So today, rather than trying to fix things for him, Iím just sitting here watching while Jon works his way through the consequences of this rough past week.It isnít easy Ėfor him or for me.I find myself wishing that I could take away some of the frustration and the embarrassment. But I take comfort in knowing that heíll learn from this, and it will help him grow into a stronger and, consequently, better adult.

Which is really saying something, because heís already a good kid.

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ó © Joseph Walker

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ďChristmas on Mill StreetĒ - An All New Holiday Novel!

ďLook What Love Has Done:  Five-Minute Messages to Lift Your Spirit.Ē

"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen?  Home Remedies for an Ailing World."