We live in a cruel world. A world full of strong opinions, heavy words written or spoken to one another, horrific senseless shootings, new and old addictions, and a whole bunch of other horrible, no good, terrible things that creep into our lives with or without consent. Our kids are surrounded by the constant stress of it all.
Parenting is hard. It is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Development being the key word here. Are you remembering that your ultimate goal is to raise a child who can function and think for themselves or are you too busy worrying that their life is perfect, or at the very least, better than yours at their age? There have been times the mama bear has come out in me and I rant (in front of my child) about someone mistreating them. It is a reaction lacking in rationalization. What a terrible example to my kids.
Parents, hear me when I say, your reaction is internalized by your child. You know the saying, “ I opened my mouth and my mother came out”? Funny, but oh so true. Our kids are watching and listening to everything we say and do and in many cases emulate that! If we help our kids rationalize what can be rationalized and give strategies to endure the irrational (i.e bullies) we are helping them DEVELOP strategies for life. If you react without thinking so will they.
Parents, I ask you how much responsibility are you giving to your child? How do you expect your child to become fluent in problem solving if you solve all their problems for them? When they present a problem, talk it through with them and then let them handle it. Yes, let them handle friend issues. Yes, let them handle their grades with their teacher. Yes, let them go to a coach to talk about why they aren’t getting playing time. Yes, let them go to the principal or councilor about a bully. Will they solve the problem every time? Nope! But we must allow them to try. As a last resort, you should be going with your child to understand a situation with a friend, teacher, or coach.
Development is the key word in the meaning of parenting. Are you parenting your child to develop independence? Are you giving them the tools to communicate with people (of all ages) so they can express their feelings and ask questions to clarify why something is going the way it is for them? Are you allowing them some chances to try to problem solve? Failure is sometimes the best teacher and consequences paid for a failure helps the lesson sink in. IF YOUR CHILD FAILS THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE FAILED AS A PARENT! It means that you allowed your child to develop in problem solving. Start them young with responsibility because the issues are smaller, thus the consequences are smaller. As your child grows older the problems they encounter are bigger with much bigger consequences.
We know you will fiercely protect your kids, but don’t so fiercely protect them that you shield them from any lesson on independence that can help them DEVELOP into that wonderful adult you want them to be one day. Put away the mamma bear routine and get real with your kids! Give them a chance to prove themselves!