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One of the things I have learned while growing up is that sometimes letting kids make their own decisions frees them up to come to their parents for advice. That’s where the real power in parenting is because when kids come to you for advice, unlike so much of the rest of the time, they are actually listening. And they come to you for advice when you give them the authority to be in charge of their own lives. That happens when you step away from trying to control them and allowing them to make mistakes, and then trust that you have informed them sufficiently to face whatever it is they have to face, or that they recognize when it is time to ask for help.

I think this applies when kids are in elementary school and you let them get dirty at the bus stop such that they have to go to school in dirty clothes, all the way to adulthood where bigger issues are at stake. Accepting the idea that kids sometimes get dirty at the bus stop means you do not intervene but instead let them face the consequences of whatever that brings including the discomforts of wearing wet shoes, or smelling like doggie poo all day.

Our big kid, 21 now, today has the thrill of seeing his iPod app for sale in the app store! As a result he’s had the fun of seeing his work reviewed by gaming magazines and bloggers, and he got a job offer from a game company, and an invitation from Cartoon Network to pitch another game, as well as tons of tweets and emails and all kinds of validation for a job well done. And in all of this, before he got to this point, we suggested he might want to get some legal advice since he was signing contracts and starting a company. I would have loved to have insisted on this but at 21 there is little we can insist upon. Instead we made him aware of our thoughts, offered some contacts, and then said good luck and let us know how it goes. He wasn’t too interested in his old folks ideas like paying big bucks for lawyers to talk to. Who needs it? Okay, we say, it’s your project and it’s your life. A few days go by, he talks to other people, and next thing you know he’s consulted with a lawyer. I didn’t necessarily understand why at the time, but letting him go to school in dirty clothes was probably a pretty good idea.

Play his game, new today, “Heads Up! Hot Dogs”.