This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Teach your children well

One of the biggest rewards when raising kids is seeing them develop into young adults with a clear sense of ethics and morals.

When our children are young, we teach them lessons with which to live life by:

  • treat people the way you want to be treated
  • don’t lie or steal
  • respect your elders,
  • clean up after yourself
  • and of course, use your manners

If all goes well, then the majority of young kids grow up to be responsible, respectful human beings who continue to perpetrate that cycle with their own offspring.

But what about the kids who don’t “grow up well” despite being raised to be that way?

This was a conversation between my 15-year-old son and me. He raised the question when we were discussing a news story we’d seen about youth “delinquents.”

My son was surprisingly knowledgeable and opinionated about the subject. He felt that if kids were old enough to understand that what they were doing is wrong, they should be held accountable.

He said he knows of many kids who do something bad behind their parents' back, and when they get caught, there’s no consequence. He surmises this is why so many kids attempt to break rules – because their parents will just make an excuse for the behaviour.

This is a 15-year-old saying this. His opinion is that we, as parents, are too easy on his peer group and that at times, we do too much for them.

I’ve been caught trying to do too much many times for my kids – and they call me out on it, like in this case.

I’d warned them I would be home late one night from work, so they both needed to go home on the school bus after school that day as I wouldn’t be able to pick them up from the city bus stop later.

My son, despite knowing this, opted to hang out with some friends after school. As a result, he had to take the city bus home. The problem with that is there is no bus route where we live and the closest bus stop is a mile away.

Since I wasn’t able to pick him up from the bus stop, he had to walk.

After stressing out about how to get him home, my son was quick to point out that it’s his problem. He knew the consequence of not taking the school bus home and would figure it out – even if it meant he had to walk.

That was a wake-up call for me. Our kids not only need the chance to figure things like this out, they want to. It’s part growing and becoming adults and proving to themselves, and us, that they are not only capable, but willing.

As my son and I bantered back and forth about the earlier news story, he asked me what I would do if he or his sister were caught stealing.

It was in that moment that my answer changed due to what he’d said to me that night.

I told him I would let them get caught and deal with the consequences. I know that their dad and I have done everything we needed to make sure they both grew up with morals and ethics.

Not only that, but they are both old enough to know the difference between right and wrong and so for either of them to be caught stealing, it wasn’t a result of them not being raised properly or us not teaching them about things like stealing is wrong.

So I guess in that respect, I’ve absolved myself — for the most part — of my kids’ bad choices at this age of their lives. Not for everything, but for many things.

When I told my son this and what my reaction would be, he looked at me, shrugged and said this is why he’s the person he is  — “and mom, I mean that as a compliment.”

Thanks for reading.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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