Natural consequences that hurt the heart


Updated below

As a parent, I am a huge advocate of parenting by natural consequences. Outcomes are clearly laid out for choices, and then no matter the choice they make, they know what to expect.

The example that I tend to use for this is that I stop policing bedtimes somewhere in the midst of middles school. I send them to bed. We have clear expectations of what behavior is acceptable. I explain to them the optimal amount of sleep needed for their age, activity level, and class load.

Then I go to bed.

If the child chooses to stay up late and is tired at school the next day, this is a lesson they are learning.

As an adult, I would love to stay up late into the night reading, watching tv, whatever. However, if I do, I am aware that the next day will be a bit rough for me. I learned this lesson the hard way, as we all must.

The concept of natural consequences is harder for me to stand behind in some situations though.

Such as a missed sport sign up.

I have a child who has found a love of track and field. He has not stopped talking about it since the end of the last season. He has been anticipating the upcoming season, preparing himself for what is to come.

He asked me about sign-ups the other day, and I checked the website. I found nothing.

So, I waited a few days and called the office.

I was informed that the deadline was WEEKS prior to my call. WEEKS. I didn’t miss it by a few days. I missed it by weeks.

Then the lovely lady went on to tell me that flyers went to the schools to be sent home. Announcements were made daily at the schools. The students were reminded.

My student, however, did not bring home a flyer. He did not mention an announcement. He made no statement of impending sign-ups.

In all of his anticipation, he forgot to actually prepare. He neglected to take the steps necessary to ensure he could participate in the event he loves so very much.

Now what?

As the mom, I spoke with the office. He is on the wait list. We offered to volunteer to see if they could add more kids with a few extra hands.

Nope. The season is set. He is wait listed. Along with some other kids who probably forgot to tell their parents that sign up was happening.

My mom heart hurts for him, that he cannot participate in the event that he loves.

My mom brain knows this is a lesson he will not soon forget. The next time that he wants to be a part of a team, go on a trip, or participate in an activity, I am confident that he will be aware of the registration requirements and deadlines.

Mom can’t fix this one, even though she tried.

Natural consequences are pretty painful sometimes.

Update: About 2 hours after making this post, and finding peace with the consequences of not being on the ball, the organization called. There was a cancellation, and my child is in.

We will be certain to make him aware that his inclusion in the program has NOTHING to do with us. It was pure luck. Luck that cannot be counted on in the future.

But we are still grateful.


  1. This is such a great post! I completely agree with the concept of natural consequences! Kids learn so much better when it’s not just mom punishing them! Plus we won’t always be there to dole out the consequences. But you’re right…. Sometimes it really does hurt when we see something happen we knew we could have helped avoid. But it is an important lesson. Maybe because of this your son will take deadlines more seriously in the future….Like college applications. Something good will come of this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that it is a great lesson. However, I am grateful to have been able to update the post, the organization called and he has been moved from the wait list to the active team.
      He will certainly know that this is pure luck, and nothing that we did to help him out.

      Liked by 1 person

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