Taking a step back may be one of the best thing parents can do for their children.
“I find myself feeling guilty for things my children are responsible for way too often.... there’s still a little part of me that feels like I should have made sure they took care of it. ”
As women, I think we feel an extra burden of responsibility to make our homes happy. We try to be everything to everyone. A nurturer to our children, a lover to our husband, and a gracious host to whomever graces our door. To that, add, care-taker of the sick, checker of the homework, and coordinator of all holidays, birthdays and other social gatherings. With all that responsibility, disappointments are sure to arise. We realize we are not Wonder Woman. We don’t have a magic lasso or flying tiara but we still try to do it all. And when we fail, we are devastated. Especially when our children suffer. But I ask you, is it such a bad thing that they suffer?
When your daughter fails a big test, your son’s uniform never makes it to the dryer or your kids run out of lunch money, who takes the blame? You may say “Well, it’s my child’s responsibility to study, make sure they have clean clothes and tell me when they need lunch money.” And you’re absolutely right! So, why do we feel guilty when they don’t? Is it our job to check behind them? To remind them?
I find myself feeling guilty for things my children are responsible for way too often. Even when I look at them and say, “I’m not in school anymore, you are,” or “That’s your name on that report card, not mine,” there’s still a little part of me that feels like I should have made sure they took care of it. I could have made sure they studied, washed the uniform or checked the lunch account but should I have?
As our children get older, the responsibility for homework, personal items and day to day responsibilities shifts from us to them. Our role changes from the one who does for them, to the one who equips them to do for themselves.
This is a very hard lesson for moms because our instincts tell us to save our children. They tell us to rescue them from all hurt, harm and disappointment. But if we want them to succeed and learn how to make decisions, we have let them practice. Some decisions will be good and some bad, but they will learn from them all. Learning how to deal with failure will teach your child how to cope when things don’t go their way. Allowing them deal with “kid-size” disappointments now will help them navigate “grown-up” disappointments later. Too many of our children tur to drugs, alcohol and reckless behavior when they can’t cope with life. Let them build their toolbox of coping skills so they have safe, productive ways to deal with disappointment.
So moms, when you’re tempted to make sure your child has every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed, stop. They will be stronger and more resilient if you don’t.