It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings – Ann Landers
Stop doing everything for your kids…
Yes, you heard me right! Just stop…especially if your kids are tweens or teens. Some of you may find it strange to hear this, but believe it or not, you will be doing more harm than good if you are going to take care of everything for them. In just a matter of few years they will be out of the house for their college education, filling out applications, eating in the hostel mess, taking care of their laundry etc…right? How are we going to equip them with the necessary life-skills if we are going to jump and do everything and hand things on a platter for them now?
Not only that, most kids today are growing up with a sense of entitlement… thinking that they deserve to be treated like royalty, even though they see their parents sweat it out at work. Who is to blame for this attitude in the kids? Only us…parents.
But before I start on this topic, I also want to put forth that we do things for our kids because we want to; as parents, we all do. In fact, it makes us happy; I love doing things for my kids even if it tires me out because I love them. This is also our way of letting our kids know how much we care and to show them that we will always be there and will do things for them because…just because we love them and they can count on us. Right? Yes…absolutely.
Then why this whole topic of “Stop doing things for your kids”? You know, we realise quite subtly in some instances and sometimes quite strongly like a jolt of rude awakening that probably instead of feeling a sense of gratitude for what parents to do for them, kids start seeing it as if it’s part of their job description or duty of their parents to do things for them. So when we notice a hint of shift in the perception in our kids attitude from “they do it because they love us” to “it’s their duty ”, then it’s high time we switch gears too. It’s a very fine line and a very difficult line to walk on, but we have to, because and only because we love our kids.
Didn’t we do chores around the house while growing up? Didn’t we run to the corner store to buy groceries and vegetables? Did our parents bring us the things we forgot to pack for school? Did all that make us feel unloved? Then, why are we doing all these things for our kids? Our actions teach our kids that a parent’s sole existence is to serve them.
So, coming back to the topic, we seriously need to stop looking at them as helpless little babies and start looking at them as competent young adolescents. We have a responsibility towards the society to bring-up responsible adults, who will be capable of handling the situations that life throws at them. A few things to start-off for our teens;
Stop waking them up in the morning; an alarm clock can do that job. We have better things to take care of during the morning rush-hour than to periodically cajole, shake-up and when all else fails, threaten our kids to wake up. Worried that they will miss the bus or school? Well, a couple of days and they will straighten up. No one said it’s going to be easy.
Stop delivering things they forgot to pack for school. Yes, maybe he worked hard on the science project or the math homework, but they need to learn to be more responsible or there will be consequences. Let them face these consequences…Is there any other better way to teach responsibility? How did we learn?…think about it.
Stop picking up after them. Yes the house will look a bit messy and it is much easier and not-to- mention, much quicker if you do it yourself. But, they need to put their plates in the sink (better yet if they wash it themselves), pick up their school work and craft work and put their clothes in the right place and do other assorted chores around the house.
Stop doing their laundry. Yes, you heard me right. It’s not rocket science…they just have to pour the detergent, put their clothes in and press a few buttons. They are always pushing buttons while playing games on the ipad, ipod, tablet and computers…so give them a few more buttons to push. That’s all. Often heard your children scream that you haven’t washed his/her such and such garment? Yes, I have heard and you have too and quite often too. That’s indication enough that they need a healthy dose of reminder that we are their parents and not someone who works for them. So if they don’t wash it, they don’t have anything to wear. And if they need it ironed, it has to be kept for ironing. Simple.
Stop running to the stationery store at the eleventh hour. The projects and assignments are not given just the previous day. Let’s first acknowledge that. So, any supplies they might need must be communicated to us, and only then can it be procured at our convenience. Please note, our convenience, not theirs. If not, they just have to wait till we get it.
Stop falling into the trap of writing excuses to the teacher on behalf of your child or writing to complain based on just your child’s perception of things. This is definitely something that needs to stop as it demerits the teacher in front of the child, wherein, the child will neither learn to own up to his mistakes nor learn to respect the teacher.
Stop critically analysing every school assignment and report. It’s important in the early preschool years but not so much once they are in middle school. We need to step back a little and see if they are managing things on their own and help them when you see them struggle. Yes, you have to know what’s going on and know if they are on track but there is such a thing as over- doing it.
So as parents, please let’s not miss opportunities where our children get to face natural consequences for their actions. It is essential especially for our teens. I am a doting, caring and over-indulgent mother myself who is learning, unlearning and relearning as I cross each stage of parenting. As a loving mother it is also my duty to raise kids who grow up to be responsible adults not bratty entitled over-grown babies.
So here are my two cents…