“Come here right now so I can put sunscreen on you,” Mom demands.
“Aw, mom, I hate that stuff, I don’t want to,” the boy whines.
Mom rises off the beach chair with the determination of a lioness on the hunt.
The boy backs away and starts to run.
Mom follows at a pace that would make any Olympian take notice.
She tackles him as if she was a NFL hopeful.
It was hard to see what was actually happening through the sand storm and flailing arms.
Mom struts away, straightening her bathing suit that had gone askew. “I told you I was going to put sunscreen on you,” she says over her shoulder as she brushes sand off her arms and legs.
A very stunned and embarrassed 14 year old picks himself off the sand, his hair stuck straight up on one side with a swipe of white sunscreen. His face peppered with sand and lotion. He sneers at his mom behind her back and walks away.
What are the odds that this boy thanked his mom?
What are the odds that this kid uses sunscreen when his mom is not around?
What are the odds that this boy had fun at the beach?
What are the odds that this kid and his mom enjoyed the ride home?
There is a time when we realize our kids need to learn from mistakes. These are what are called “affordable” mistakes. We would never allow our toddlers or young children to go in the sun unprotected. But how old do we want our kids to be before they start making this decisions on their own about their own comfort and safety?
What if we did allow our teen to go without sunscreen? An affordable mistake?
Lets see what might happen…
“I have some sunscreen if you want to use it, I can help you if you want. I am going to slather myself because I just hate getting sunburned,” she models to him as she smoothes on the lotion.
She may even relay a story about when she was a kid and got a terrible sunburn and how uncomfortable that was.
Now, if the 14 year old chooses not to use the sunscreen, a natural consequence happens. SUNBURN. The teen is uncomfortable, nothing life threatening.
Here is where parents make it or break it with their teens…
“Look at that sunburn! Didn’t I tell you would get burnt if you didn’t use your sunscreen? It serves you right. If you would only listen to your mom once in awhile, but no, you think you are so smart. Next time you had better use your sunscreen like I said.”
How is the teen feeling about mom?
How is the mom feeling about the teen?
Will the teen look for mom later to kiss her goodnight?
Lets try this…
As she sees the teen’s reddened skin, she can say,
“Oh, ouch, that must hurt. Let me know if I can help you in anyway.”
She may want to say out loud to Dad in earshot of her son, “I am sure glad I used my sunscreen, sunburn is so uncomfortable.” This is when mom gets to be the empathetic loving ”good-guy” parent and stay in relationship with her teen, while the teen is having a learning experience.
What are the odds that teen will use sunscreen next time it is offered?
What are the odds that teen will listen to mom’s wisdom when she gives advice?
We all learn best when we come to our own conclusions…