Standing in the hallway of the courthouse, taking notes from the docket posted on the wall which listed cases I would be handling that morning, a woman approached me. The woman was middle-aged and presented herself well. She asked if I was a lawyer and went on to inquire about whether or not her son needed to get an attorney for his possession of marijuana case which was to be heard the same morning.
As she was asking questions regarding the role a lawyer might play in her son’s defense, she expressed how worried and upset she was. Her son was 19 years old and had not been in any real trouble prior to this. She was doing her best to minimize his consequences this time.
“Why are you so upset?” I asked.
“He could go to jail,” she answered.
“Well, even if he did, you won’t. It’s his problem, let him worry about the consequences” was my counsel.
This may seem like a harsh response to a caring mother. The point in that comment and throughout our conversation was that this young man was old enough to own his situation. The mother has her own problems and can’t control the young adult son. When she can release him to step into the responsibility of manhood, which includes consequences for mistakes, then he can begin to mature.
While we are tempted to soften the landing for people we care about when they are struggling, that may be robbing them of the consequences they need the most. The experience they are living through brings the opportunity for wisdom that is born of the trial. The trial is often a product of a bad choice. The bad choice will most likely be corrected when they feel the sting of the results. It’s as true for others as it is for us.
This mother quite obviously loved her son. That love doesn’t always need to look like rescue. Love sometimes releases the person who is loved to live their own choices out which fosters a greater relationship for future opportunities of a healthy love.
The young man came over and the three of us had a great discussion of encouragement and responsibility. As it turned out, this turned out to be a day of liberation for both the mother and the son.