The Consequence of No Consequences

Ensuring that your child  faces Natural Consequences for their actions are, what I believe, essentially inoculating them to the truly terrible forms of Dumpster Fire Gremlin Disease. There is no better way to learn that “it’s not all about you” than having the universe/world  show you throw cosmic bitch slaps of love. Natural Consequences anchor us to reality and make it harder for us to dissociate into our Egos. It’s very difficult to believe rules don’t apply to you or that your super duper uber special, when all of that gets busted up before it can really set roots. In this post, I hope to give you my input about Natural Consequences and how they apply to our societies current state.

What makes Natural Consequences so amazing is how they allow a person to experience consequences, both positive and negative, in their purest form. Natural Consequences exist outside of our personal beliefs and Egos. They are the consequences we have agreed on as a society or that physics already had in place long before we were here. If you decided to skip showers and let your body odor flow with enthusiasm, people aren’t going to be enthusiastic to be around you, in American culture at least. If you decided to stop doing your homework, you’re still going to have a gapping hole in your grade from all of those homework zeros.

Lets look at the on going saga of getting kids to wear coats. The natural consequence of not wearing that coat is of course, being cold. There is no way around being cold unless you seek shelter or you wear some form of protection from the elements. Since you don’t have the Metagene and you don’t live at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, you aren’t going to circumvent being cold on pure will power.

Of course, the Ego wants to fight back for the sack of expressing control and doing what it pleases, even against its own best interest. When parenting with Natural Consequences, it’s all about giving your kid the choice to do the thing you suggest or going with their current train wreck of plan. Giving them the choice naturally lowers resistance and places them right in the path of the accountability train when their resistance doesn’t work out for them. This is an excellent way for parents to save a little energy and have significant effect on their child’s thinking and intrinsic motivation to comply and make good decisions.

When the Ego is involved, reasonable and logical approaches can be rendered useless and likely will result in an all-out power struggle. Things get rougher when you have children who are a bit more head strong (sorry mom) or have some mental health related behavioral issues. This is a perfect job for a Natural Consequence. Let that wind chill show your kid that maybe, just maybe you were looking out for them the whole time and not just being a nag. But most importantly, when that arctic blast hits those bare arms, they will see that there isn’t a way to get around the reality of the situation. Reality is not what you want it to be, you are not in control. When you let Natural Consequences be the bad guy, you get to instead be the well-meaning “Yoda” and support system looking out for them. Your kid learns to think about things from a perspective of  “well that’s how that works” versus “that’s not fair why me.” It’s a game changer.

Natural Consequences are prioritized in parenting styles that are based in Authoritative Parenting. Authoritative Parenting is pretty much the gold standard of parenting versus Permissive or Authoritarian. I can discuss those in more detail in a later post, but the information is pretty easy to find online to get the basics. The major take away is that Authoritative styles encourage our youth to learn how to actually Adult on their own without us constantly needing to redirect and manage them. They develop essential skills to being an Adult that can only be obtained via life experience. Frustration Tolerance, Critical Thinking Skills, Resiliency, building a strong Agency of Hope, and yes Empathy, are products of a healthy understanding of Natural Consequences.


 

College is when I first encountered peers who didn’t have the basics of Adulting properly introduced to them. Before the semester ended, the RA had to intervene to keep those poor souls from completely falling apart. It was obvious some form of Authoritarian or Permissive Parenting was a part of their experience at some point. I should take a moment to remind people, I am very much a Cognitive Based Therapist who believes early childhood experiences and Attachment are the big things that form our personalities. Yes, I trace most things back to early child development and our relationships with our parents, but I do not cosign anything that resembles “My parents were bad so my life is ruined.” Thats not a thing.


Though they are polar opposites, they can produce eerily similar hot messes. Here are the two basic profiles to serve as a reference for class today.

You have the young adult who doesn’t know how to make decisions or problem solve on their own. They aren’t defiant or resistant, but just the opposite. They are begging for someone to boss them around or validate their every step. This kid likely had an Authoritarian Parent micromanaging their life.

The other profile is the young adult who is equally incompetent, but instead of meek and hesitant, they are pushy and resistant. When they show up in a new situation, that doesn’t care who their parents are and isn’t willing to let mom handle this for them, the real world falls on them like a ton of bricks. The suffer when their usual means of success, busting boundaries, doesn’t work in this new young adult world.


Despite my jokes, I really do feel for both of these people. It must be a horrible realization to arrive at during this major transition. Playing catch up and is going to be a challenge, but well worth the effort.

One of those grey areas with using Natural Consequences, is choosing when the stakes are too high to gamble. Down here in the south, you can let your stubborn kid forgo a winter coat if push comes to shove; however, doing that in North Dakota is most certainly a Hell No. Our first job is to of course keep our kids breathing, giving them time to live and learn. That’s why it’s so important that our Egos get curb stumped by Natural Consequences early in the game when the stakes are lower.

Just ask yourself would you rather your kid get detention for a week for popping a girl on the butt like he saw in a movie or would you rather in college they have a terrible reputation as being known as “that rapey dude.”  It’s so much better for your stubborn 19-year-old to eat roman for 2 months because they did not listen to you about the dangers of credit cards versus them declaring bankruptcy when they have a wife and children who will be affected as well. When the stakes are higher, not only is their more to lose but there is a higher likelihood that others will get caught in the blast. Do the work on the front-end people and avoid paying me, a probation officers, or the living expenses of your 40 year old child.


Now that we got you caught up on the Psychobabble, here is the Shade


 

Natural Consequences are the ultimate teacher and tamer of Egos. When an Ego has been unchained for too long, the stakes on that Natural Consequence is going to be very high. It would be so simple if that cost were isolated just to that individual, but that’s definitely not how life works. Much to my own Ego’s chagrin, the people in our country are irrevocably tethered together in a group project where we all get the same grade. That’s my personal hell FYI. Regardless of how hard I work, if you don’t do your part, we’re kinda screwed.


We tried to tell you that you wanted the affordable health insurance, but you fought us. You fought us so hard, against your own best interest mind you, that you literally convinced yourself that Obamacare and The Affordable Care Act (ACA) were not the same thing.

We told white women, “hey gurl, please don’t take your own rights away,” but you did it anyway and now you’re panicking about Handmaid’s Tale seeming a bit too realistic for comfort.

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When people refuse to be reasonable, logical, or respond to fact, Natural Consequences are your last resort. Oh, you don’t want this good insurance because of your blind resistance to President Obama and the Democratic party, fine. No ACA for you. I still love you and support you and I’m willing to revisit this when you want to have a solution focused conversation about it. Until then, you can have your “Wealth Care”. I know there is going to be a huge fallout in some form of the other that, has to happen. We are all in this together and we are going to feel this blast together. Whatever happens, I’m sure it will at least have the benefit of putting things in perspective for all of us.

Just like that stubborn kid who didn’t even make it all the way to his bus stop before missing the sweet warmth of his Power Ranger hoodie, the Egos of our fellow countrymen would fold just as quickly. Oh wait, it’s already happening. These tweets and outcry’s from Trump Supporters expressing their betrayal and anger usual express also feeling deceived or lied to. I feel for them like I would feel for any person in pain, but I keep my stank eye firmly in place, because I know their Egos have not completely left the driver seat. You see, Natural Consequences are beautiful because when the dust settles from the fallout, diverting blame and dodging accountability is a lot harder. When that kid tries to spew out his false narrative of  “well I would have worn my coat but you moved it so I couldn’t find it” OR “if you were nicer about it I would have worn it.”

Nope, we’re not doing that.

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I’m sure people believe these narratives, because their Egos desperately need them to, but I don’t cosign crazy. When people circumvent accountability via false narratives, they never truly grow or learn the lesson their Egos needed to learn in the first place. These false narratives and “alternative facts,” set the stage for the same conflict to present itself again, raining chaos upon us all.

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I understand the amount of misinformation that was present during the election and it was created specifically to manipulate people via their fears, but that’s not an excuse. Despite what people claim they were and were not aware of at the time, if we are going to move forward as a people together, y’all are going to have to admit what really happened. It’s not about what decisions you made, it’s about why you made them and how you allowed your Ego get the better of you. No, we are not all political analyst or students of a social science, but we are all people who exist together in the same reality. Don’t be that person who digs themselves into an even deeper hole in an effort to spare your ego from the curb stomp it has coming.

There will always and forever be Natural Consequences, it’s just a matter of when and how they catch up to you. You of course have a choice. Right now, you can choose to eat a little crow and have a real look at your decisions OR you can continue down this path where we will all suffer. I don’t think much of some of the people running our country but I have faith that we as the citizens can do what needs to be done to save ourselves. These Natural Consequences are coming, it’s up to you to decide which one arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Patrick Henderson LPC

I'm a licensed counselor working to try and stay sane while creating more resources and awareness for mental health services. I love my job so much, but I need a change of pace. I want to continue creating resources but why not have a bit of fun while I'm at it right? Come check out my blog where you can have access to a ton of rambling from me that should be definitely be educational and hopefully humorous as well. Come check out my "Pro Bono Adventures" and ways to help support mental health!