A mom in our school was complaining today that her sweet child has two tests this week, and she feels that that is too much for her precious baby girl. That ‘baby’ is in grade five. And eleven years old.
I know of another mom with a high school child who still makes the bed for that child… Every day.
Then there’s that mom who demanded to know why her precious bundle… 13yr old bundle… did not get the lead in the school play.
What is happening to parents these days? In our efforts to raise competent, responsible children, we are doing exactly the opposite.
What we overprotect, we make weak.
We cannot pave the path for our children, folks. That is not our job. Our job is to prepare our children for that bumpy road called Life. We need to equip them with all the abilities we can possibly think of, for them to have the skills and confidence to manage whatever crosses their path on their journey. And it is their journey, folks, we cannot take that journey for them. And we are doing them a disservice by trying to pave a smooth, golden, lily lined, rainbow road for them. Life is not smooth. It is as bumpy as a dirt road after a massive rain storm in a deep dark third world country. And our children need to be able to handle that.
You need to start picturing the adult you want to raise. And work backwards from there. You also need to model the kind of adult you want them to be. That is how they learn most of their behaviour – not through your instructions, but through your example.
If you want a capable, responsible child, you need to put responsibility on their shoulders. Make them responsible for everything they should be responsible for – packing their own bags, making their own beds, packing their own lunches, remembering their own sports kits. A child who always forgets, has a parent who always remembers. Stop that, or you will be remembering for them until they are adults. And then they will need a PA or spouse to take on that role for them because you will have not taught them that life lesson.
If you want them to feel good about themselves, give them opportunities to feel pride in themselves and their own achievements. Let them learn to tie their own shoelaces, and make their own sandwiches, and dress themselves. They can pack and unpack their own bags for holidays. They can speak to their own teachers about issues they have. They can have success without you putting up your hand for them. And they can handle failures without you trying to make those failures disappear. And when they do succeed, it will give them such a boost in their self-esteem that they will believe in themselves and their abilities, because they have had opportunities to prove themselves to themselves. We are usually our own biggest critics, so why not gift them the ability to have self-belief.
There are so many things we do for them that they could be doing for themselves. Stop that. Stop robbing them of the opportunity to grow. To believe. To be confident.
It is not our job to make our children happy – it is our job to teach them to make themselves happy. Do that. You will have an amazingly confident and happy child one day. And your life will be so much easier. And your child will be an adult who can stand on his/her own two feet, confidently and capably.
Then you will have done your parenting job commendably.