The Line of Least Resistance

A fascinating aspect of human nature is that people usually take the easy path in life, the line of least resistance.  It is the option with the least trouble, minimum argument, and preferably no pain.  Although it sometimes seems that some people love to learn life’s lessons the hard way, the choices that people actually make are generally perceived at the time to be the most enjoyable, or the easiest, even if they are later found to be problematic. This is an important principle in parenting.

For example, giving kids choices that are both hard and easy sets them up and empowers them to take the option that is best. Setting firm boundaries on what they can and cannot do channels their efforts in the right direction, too (and as Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”).

This can all sound like manipulation, but it is simply responsible parenting.  You don’t allow your kids to choose whether or not they will go to school, you send them.  You don’t allow kids to choose religion for themselves, you bring them with you to church.  Similarly, you don’t allow them to choose their behaviour, you set and police some clear expectations that they will own so that they end up choosing for themselves.  Empowering them to choose well and to select the only viable option free of painful consequences can wisely direct a child along the right path.

In the end, the racing lines of life are smoother and the drive is more enjoyable.  All too many kids make life an altogether unpleasurable experience for themselves and others down the track, because their less effective choices seemed like a good idea at the time.

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