Choices and consequences. If ever there was a concept losing popularity then this one has to be toward the top of the list……..

Let me start with the technical, and work my way across to my point! Which, by the way, is the fact that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s Third Law).

Even the most uninterested and cursory glance at a race car by someone who is appalled by the damage we are doing to our planet and thinks our sport is a pointless exercise undertaken by children trapped in adult bodies will have seen that race cars typically have ‘wings’ on the back. For those that don’t sip half-strength caramel mocha latté extra hot on Mexican goats milk whilst reading David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’, you will understand that for every ‘big wing’ on the back of a race car there has to be equal aero downforce applied to the front of the car. There are very few who have mastered the mystical art of race car aerodynamics.

Put simply it works like this. The forces that make an aeroplane lift off the ground and fly, when turned up-side-down, will make a car stick to the ground like a wet cowpat. Both rely on the shape of the ‘wing’ to generate what is called ‘lift’. In the case of a race car, we turn the wing upside-down and that force is directed toward the ground. In an aeroplane that’s called ‘a crash’. In a race car that is called ‘downforce’. A Formula One car at 300Klm’s an hour could run upside-down along the roof of a tunnel, that’s how much force can be generated.

So producing downforce makes the car stick to the road, making for faster cornering. But there is a catch. As a bi-product of producing that downforce, you also produce ‘drag’. Drag in simple terms is the car havening to ‘drag’ some of the air it is surrounded by along with it (Yes, I know it is more complicated than that, but we have Prius drivers reading this so clearly cars are not a big priority for them!). The short story is, the more downforce you produce to go around corners, the more air you have to drag along with you up the straights. It’s simple physics. You can’t have one without the other. And the trick when setting a race car up is to work out whether a particular race track gives you a time advantage by going slower around the corners but really fast up the straights, or if sacrificing a bit of speed up the straights will be more than compensated for by holding faster cornering speeds. Shimple…

Cause and effect. Every day we are making decisions that involve ‘cause and effect’. And the average person makes great decisions most of the time. That is, right up until the consequences become obvious and then we start fiddling with the decisions we are making in an attempt to get an outcome we can live with. And we see it every day impacting our lives. We know we should step up and say to someone they are being unreasonable about something, but rather than confronting it we dodge the hard conversation and try and soften our response. We see someone making a bad decision, and rather than calling them on it, we turn a blind eye. We know what is ‘right’ but will compromise to make life a bit ‘easier’ for ourselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, choosing your fights wisely is a good thing. The trick is balancing choosing your fights against compromising your integrity. And as parents, it is a constant juggle. The reason for that is plain: parenting is not determined by simple physics. Physics says that for every 1mm increase in front splitter length we add on a race car we get an increase of 1kg in downforce. When dealing with our kids determining ‘what the right thing to do’ in any given circumstance means juggling the consequences not only on the child concerned, but often on ourselves, other siblings, and more broadly the other people scattered around our lives. For example, giving up on trying to get our child to music lessons on time may mean their brother/sister doesn’t get to soccer training on time; the music teacher gets held up with their next lesson; we don’t get to finish the grocery shopping before we have to be back to pick them up, and the dinner isn’t on the table with the pipe and slippers at the front door when our wife gets home from work! (Do you like the way I flipped that around so I stayed politically correct… And yes, I humbly apologise to the pipe-smoking, slipper wearing female Prius drivers out there whom I may have offended…).

As parents, if we ignore the rule of ’cause and effect’ we run the risk of raising kids who don’t understand that their choices have an impact on the people around them. In the long run, there is a price to be paid for that. And on this point you can trust me, that is not a price we want to pay.

Our kids need boundaries, and they need clear consequences for their bad choices if and when they make them. It teaches them where the boundaries are! How else are they going to learn? And yes, we will in the short term pay a price for standing up to our kids but that is called ‘parenting’. It is not easy, and it can sometimes feel like this relentless battle. But trust me, it gets easier if for no other reason than they stop asking because they already know the answer…..!

Remember Newton’s Third Law. It’s the physics equivalent of the Biblical principle that underpins our School. “Iron sharpens iron”. There are consequences to consider when choosing the people we are going to hang out with. A ‘reaction’ if you like, that is the inevitable result of who we choose to hang out with. And it’s not driven by physics as much as it is driven by the sort of people we want our kids to become. We need to teach our kids how to choose wisely. Just as well God has given us the principles upon which we can make those choices…..!

Have a great week.

Geoff Brisby