I had a discussion recently with several other moms about how to prevent our children from growing up and repeating the same poor choices that we made in our youth, and more specifically our teenage years.

How do we ensure our children aren’t sucked in by peer pressure?

How do we guarantee that they aren’t defining their self-worth by what others think?

We theorized that we needed to raise confident children. Perhaps if they had a sport or another serious interest it would over-power their need for the approval of others.

But let’s contemplate another more uncomfortable scenario.

What if our role as parents isn’t to prevent our children from what we view as undesirable scenarios? What if our role is to instead guide them through the muckiness and help them make it out the other side alive, intact, and better off?

In this scenario, we have to be ok if they make mistakes. We have to standby lovingly as they experience uncomfortable situations, self-doubt, poor decisions, and poisonous relationships.

Our role would involve unconditional love, support, and not judging their decisions or choices. Our role would mean believing that they will eventually be ok regardless of the path they choose or the poor choices they make.

We’d have to resist the urge to criticize, offer unsolicited advice, and punish poor decisions.

It would take restraint to help without judgement. It would require the ability to let go of worry and the need to be right.

Courage would be required to hold your head up high and support your child regardless of what others think.

You would have to trust your child, even if they give you no reason to do so.

The ability to see the “glass half full” in any circumstance would be crucial to your mental sanity.

Faith would be required to know that everything will ok, no matter how bad it seems in the moment.

Could you do it?

And the bigger question: Is preventing negative experiences the goal? Or is the goal letting them experience all that life has to offer and deciding for themselves how they’ll turn out?