Being a parent these days is difficult. There are so many bad things and bad people out there. I will admit, I have a serious paranoia about something or someone taking my kids from me. Bad things happen, in an instant. And our kids are growing up in a world that’s so much faster, so much scarier, than when we were kids. There’s a fine line between protecting, and over-protecting, our kids. I worry frequently I’m hovering too much, or not enough. Where do you find the balance?
I’ve decided this…my kids need space to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes. If I’m always carrying them, literally and figuratively, they will never be independent, that entitlement factor will be fed, the expectation that someone will always be there to fix it and tell them how amazing they are will be propagated, and they will be further convinced they are the center of my world. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my children. We are at a stage my days revolve around their activities. I also let them know I am more than “mom” or “wife,” I am a person in my own right. They have jobs to do around the house because I need them to learn responsibility, how to take care of themselves, and because they need to know they are part of this household and therefore must contribute to its care. Yes, they are paid an allowance. If there’s a game, toy, song, or any other “extra”, they must use their own money to buy it. It’s called being responsible, accountable. We are firm believers in natural consequences.
There are a lot of parents of my generation putting their kids on pedestals. Every part of their day revolves around their kids. They eat gourmet, organic food – heaven forbid a Pop Tart or frozen waffle enter their diets. Every second of their lives are documented in perfect order. They are never allowed to fail, never allowed to walk on their own two feet, never allowed to fall. What is that doing to our kids? I say, let them eat dirt. Kids need to fail. Kids need to fall. Kids need to know their parents have lives of their own. Kids need to understand they are not the center of the universe. Kids need to understand there are winners, there are losers, and losing isn’t the end of the world. They need to know not everyone gets an award, not everyone gets a trophy.
I’m not perfect, trust me. There are days I hover, I protect, I defend when I should take a step back and let my kids work it out themselves. They will be better adults for enduring the process. Let’s stop pushing our ten-year-olds around in strollers (different needs kids excepted of course) and let them walk, let them fall, let them learn to pick themselves back up.