It’s important to let preteens make some bad decisions

SmartCathycProbably the hardest part of being a parent to a preteen is learning when to take a step back during the times when you really want to take a step in.

The best decision — sometimes — is the one we don’t make.

Middle schoolers don’t need a parent who tries to solve all their problems or prevents them from making bad decisions.

OK, there’s a scale on the bad-decision factor here.

Allowing your kid to spend too many hours watching TV instead of chipping away on a long-term science project is not the same as allowing your kid to get in a car with a drunken driver.

Some bad decisions I will prevent.

Case in point was a recent movie outing at the mall that my son wanted to take with a friend. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, and I thought it would not turn out as well as he hoped.

Instead of saying no, we took a step back.

My husband and I dropped him off to meet his friend, hung back nearby to make sure the kids were safe, and crossed our fingers that everyone would have a good time.

After the movie we learned it didn’t turn out as well as my son had hoped. In fact, I think both kids agreed that it didn’t work out very well.

But I know that he learned so much more through that experience than if I stepped in and didn’t let him go.

He can now pull from that experience in the future — at least that is our hope as parents.

There’s no rule book for how to be a preteen.

They are learning how to navigate the scary waters of sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

They are going to do stupid things and make poor choices.

I have a good kid. He’s kind, caring, goofy and sometimes a bit naive to his surroundings. There are many kids like him in York County.

As a parent, I hope he learns from his mistakes, and I hope he’s not afraid to make new ones.

Those mistakes usually end up being the valuable life lessons that later can be shared, but can’t ever really be taught.

That’s a reality that I can keep pace with.

Cathy Hirko is the business editor and Weekly Record editor. She can be reached at 717-771-2027 or

Cathy Hirko

I'm the business/Weekly Record editor for the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Contact me,; 717-771-2027 and on Twitter: @CathyHirko and @YDRBUSINESS.

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