I (Kendra) remember when our eldest son celebrated his eleventh birthday, and his grandmother gave him a crisp, new twenty- dollar bill. This gift was a real treat and something he could spend any way he chose. I took him to the mall to exchange that twenty-dollar bill for something special. Spending his birthday money was our only goal, so the toy store was our destination. When we arrived he immediately headed for the electronics section and immersed himself in studying the various hand-held games. He wanted to be certain he selected the very best one.  After much deliberation, he made a decision.

There were two or three customers ahead of him at the checkout counter so he had to wait for a little while longer to enjoy his gift. As he stood there, the impulse items on the long counter caught his eye. He picked up one or two of them and quickly glanced at the claims on the back of the boxes. When he finally reached his destination, I was shocked to hear him say, “I changed my mind. I want this instead.”  He showed me the alternative, the shiny impulse item, chosen on a whim. “Are you sure?” I asked. He nodded, and I said nothing more.

He paid for the new toy, and we headed for the parking lot. Mission accomplished, or so I thought. Inside the car he immediately tore open the package and began to fiddle with his birthday purchase. Literally, before we got out of the parking lot of the Mall he reached into the front seat and handed me the newly acquired item.

“Take this, Mom, and throw it away. It’s junk and just seeing it makes me feel bad.” I can still hear his words to this day.  He was not the only one who felt bad that day. After hearing the disappointment in his voice, I wasn’t sure which one of us felt worse. I took the toy and disposed of it. “That’s OK, Matthew,” I said. “Grandma will probably give you twenty dollars again next year.” That’s what I said. But that is not what I wanted to say. I wanted to say, “Here’s twenty dollars. Let’s go back in and get something else. Now this time, try to make a better choice.”

I didn’t want my son to feel bad. I didn’t want to feel bad. I wanted to rescue him from the poor choice he had just made. The truth of the matter is, that day I didn’t have an extra twenty to give to him. And in retrospect, I’m happy that the money wasn’t available. Through the grace of God, I didn’t rescue him.  Resisting the rescue is difficult but it is usually the right choice.

When have you chosen to “resist the rescue” and allow your child to deal with the consequences of a poor choice?

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