In 1939 my father was starting his senior year at Star Valley High School when he had the brilliant (or perhaps bizarre) idea. He decided he was going to sleep outside in a tent all winter. He grew up on a farm in Afton, Wyoming where it was not uncommon for the winter temperature to reach 30 to 40 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit.
It was in this environment where he learned two of life’s most important lessons: 1) his pants had to be folded and placed inside the covers of his bed or they would freeze; and 2) if his pants froze he had to hit them against the tent pole before he could put them on to go milk the cows.
He slept every night that winter in the tent, and every morning he woke up in the freezing cold, put on his pants and went to milk the cows. I asked him why he did such a crazy thing and his answer was simple, “because I wanted to!”
I wondered why my grandparents let him do it. I don’t know the answer but perhaps it was as simple as assuming he was old enough to make his own decisions.
His reasoning will remain a mystery. As I think about his unusual choice I am particularly impressed with my grandparents. I am certain they thought it was a strange idea but they let him make his own choice and then they let him live with the consequences.
I have often wondered how much freedom of choice we allow our children and then after they make their decision do we let them implement it and live with the consequences? Of course, we must monitor the situation and also restrain ourselves and let them stretch as we watch the results of their choice. There’s a fine balance here. Let’s help them learn responsibility for their choices through our unconditional love, trust, and support.
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