I spent Thanksgiving Day a year ago in Houston. That evening, two of my granddaughters — Sarah, 16, and Erin, 15, — drove past their local mall and seeing lines forming for Black Friday sales that were to begin at midnight, decided they should be part of that experience.
They returned home and donned warm coats, hats and gloves. Loaded down with charged mobile phones, folding chairs, snacks, a thermos of hot chocolate and bottles of water, they made their way to one of the stores to get in line.
They witnessed one near fight when a pregnant woman with her family tried to cut in line saying she needed to be first because she would have to go to the bathroom as soon as the doors opened.
Sarah and Erin said they would have let her go ahead of them, but the people at the front of the line were having none of it. Some shoving and name calling ensued before security guards intervened.
When the doors opened, they made their way inside and witnessed people fighting for bargains, another new experience. Although they only spent a few dollars, they were quite proud of being Black Friday veterans.
I was proud of them for having the adventure and proud of their parents for encouraging taking a risk at something never tried before.
What makes any endeavor risky is the possibility of failure. Contrary to popular belief, not all risk-taking is bad. Risk-taking can promote healthy neurological development.
Since adolescents are hard-wired to take risks, the challenge for parents is to help them find healthy opportunities to do so.
Positive and healthy risk-taking includes playing team sports, volunteer activities and making new friends. Sometimes they will win and sometimes lose, but they may find they are more self-confident, which can help prevent negative risk-taking behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol/drugs or unsafe sex.
Learning how to win and lose as well as how to take risks to help others are important social milestones every teen must learn to conquer.
Did Sarah and Erin choose to do Black Friday this year? No.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.