Good Life

Fathering | Stay calm when kids make foolish decisions

My 26-year-old daughter recently announced that she was planning to travel to an unstable country. In my view, she was going to do something risky. I offered my two cents, to which she responded, “OK, daddy.”

I could tell that she wasn’t going to change her mind. So what are my options as a parent? I could plead: “If you really care about me you wouldn’t do this.” I could harangue: “Stop being stupid.” I could also threaten: “If you do this, I won’t speak to you again.”

Unfortunately, my daughter has inherited a certain trait from me: stubbornness. So what is a father to do? Before turning up the heat or walking away shaking your head, consider the following:

Action ideas:

•  Think back to when you were a young adult. Did you engage in risky behavior? How did you handle it? Should you have avoided it? Or should you have learned how to be safe when participating in this behavior?

•  Know your child. How do they manage risks? Are they careless or thoughtless when engaging in risky behavior? If they take risks, are they able to stop or back away when the risks gets too high?

•  Try to objectively evaluate the risk. Is it an “acceptable” risk such as sky diving, mountain climbing or traveling to a third-world country where the risk can be managed? Or is it behavior that is unacceptable such as drug use or excessive drinking?

P.S., my daughter eventually decided after some thought and discussion not to travel where she had planned. (Whew!)