Natural Consequences

Google or Bing “natural consequences” and you hit a lengthy discourse on the appropriate application of “natural consequences” in parenting and teaching. If Johnny refuses to eat the dinner you cook, then Johnny will go hungry. If Mary refuses to study for the test or complete her homework, she may fail the class. It is difficult as a parent to avoid interfering with your child’s choices. They have to make their own decisions and learn their choices have impact. These are the training wheels that ramp up to adulthood. Drink and drive and risk D.U.I. Work, get paid and then spend your entire check on Jimmy Choo shoes or a lovely Louis Vuitton handbag and you risk eviction from your apartment. Allowing natural consequences to unfold is painful to watch, exasperating to endure, especially if the outcome is harsh and could have been avoided.Make stupi, bonehead choices a few times and most people learn from their poor choices. We are all rats in a Skinner box at some point.

Adulthood, nay maturity, means that you anticipate the natural consequences of your actions and choices and foresee that the likely and expected outcome is beneficial. If we project that the outcome is NOT as desired, we adjust our actions, trying to optimize outcome or minimize damage. Only a magical thinker who believes consequences are suspended by some fluke of nature can claim surprise. Who can be shocked that their power gets turned off if they don’t pay the utility bill?  Mean power plant!

But, humans have a stunning ability to live in a perpetual state of denial. Like everyone’s cantankerous Uncle Junior, who gripes over the potato salad at the family reunion, “I couldn’t believe it! I mean, can you believe I have lung cancer?!” What? There is a direct natural consequence from smoking tobacco! Whodathunk!

Life is not a Zen exercise. 1 + 1 = 2. Eat 5000 calories a day = get fat. Never brush teeth = get cavities. Fall asleep on the job = get fired. Fall asleep at the wheel = crash or worse. We may want someone else to take the burden and responsibility. We want the super, sneaky, hidden escape hatch that gets us off the hook. Let someone else take the hit. The simple truth is that if you get caught with dope in your pocket or someone else’s prescription medication in your purse… is your own damn fault. If you ignite bottle rockets and firecrackers after a long afternoon of drinking and BBQing, don’t be shocked when someone gets burned or injured. It is unfortunate. It could have been avoided. But is IS the natural consequences of things. So stop whining and take your lumps!

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