Parents, back off.

“By pandering to your child’s every need, you are doing them a huge disservice”

 

I read this in my doctor’s office a few years ago and at the time I was mostly annoyed.

I mean every mother (in her right mind) wants to over provide, rather than under provide for her children, right? Every mom wants to meet her child’s every need, and sometimes that means sacrificing a lot of yourself and your needs so that your child wants for nothing. Having a child means that your life as you knew it before having children gets put on the back burner and instead, you dedicate your life to that of your child’s. Your free time is no longer spent reading a book, but sowing name labels on little clothes and washing and sterilising bottles. We don’t do it selfishly, but rather selflessly… for our kids. Right?

 

However, six years into this parenting job (someone give me a medal please), I’ve come to realise the truth of that statement. I believe this statement is referring more to the helicopter parent who loves to hover (guilty as charged), I believe it is referring to the parent who can’t bear to see their kid’s little heart break when they can’t do something or can’t get something right (again, guilty as charged). What I’ve come to learn, is that by constantly jumping to their aid, we are prohibiting them from learning and understanding the bigger life lesson. And it’s a number of lessons that you could be teaching in such a situation:

 

  1. Slow and steady wins the race – let them learn and understand that not everything is easy but that practice does eventually make perfect.
  2. It’s ok not to be the winner, as long as you have tried your best.
  3. It’s ok to be frustrated, but freaking out when you don’t get your own way or you can’t reach the toothpaste or you can’t put the CD into the DVD properly, is not cool and doesn’t help the situation.
  4. And most importantly. Mommy loves you, but I want you to LEARN to do these things for yourself. Because quite frankly, I am not going to be around forever, and I need to equip you to DO life.

 

And I think children love the independence of being able to do things for themselves. And by constantly butting in and doing things for them, we are giving them less credit than they deserve. I am a helicopter-parent, no doubt, but I’ve decided that tough love isn’t a bad thing. For me, this means letting them do age appropriate things for themselves, letting them make mistakes, letting them battle things out before jumping in and saving the day. I do believe that this will go a long way in raising kids who will become responsible and capable adults.

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