by Elizabeth Bourgeret
Ok, mommies, we can't bubble wrap our children and sadly, we can't fix all their broken parts. As much as we'd love to protect our precious babies (even the ones that are grown and out of the house) we can't. How do we know when to let them "learn their lesson" or learn the hard truth about consequences?
There is no easy answer, but it is a part of life, of parenthood that is difficult for all involved.
As mommies, we all have this overwhelming urge to keep our children safe from any and all harm. And while that is a noble thought, it is just not possible. Nor is it healthy. We need those scars, bumps and bruises to help mold and shape us into the adults we are meant to be.
When we allow our children to learn from their mistakes, it helps to create a sense of self-confidence. When they figure their way out of a mess or problem that is slightly stressful, they become better equipped to tackle the next challenge that comes along. But if, on the other hand, we are there to constantly rescue them, they develop the attitude that they can't cope without an adult to oversee all of their actions. And while that may seem harmless while they are little, that "training" stays with them as they grow into adulthood.
Learning to walk is a basic example. Every child must learn to walk. We know they are going to fall. We know that they might scrape a knee or bonk a head or squish a finger. But it's something that they MUST do to get them to the next level. Now imagine, in our attempt to protect them from ever getting hurt, we never let the fall. We just carried them everywhere. Flash forward a few years... that adorable little baby is starting to get a little heavy- to say the least! But come on... every parent looks forward to the day they never have to buy another pack of diapers again! And the longer term result of carrying your child, is that they never walk, they never run, they never get potty trained, they never ride a bike... This is perhaps an extreme and overly obvious example, but it's really the beginning for the rest of the child's growing and learning process.
Resist the urge to fight your child's battles. They may come home a little bumped and bruised, but they will learn that the fire is hot and not to touch it again. This is so important to do while they are young, because their battles only get tougher as they get older. And I'm sure it is every parent's wish that they're child to be self-sufficient. This begins when they are young, so when they become teenagers, they know that the consequences of their decisions are all of their own doing. They learn taking responsibility for their own actions and decisions, even at an early age and thus limits the "blaming" attitude.
If they run out of allowance, don't give them more money. Don't teach them that the rules don't apply to them.
If they break something, they are in charge of cleaning it up... and maybe even replacing it, depending on their age. But for sure acknowledging and apologizing for the act. (if applies)
If they don't finish their homework, don't call the teacher to get them out of whatever "punishment" was handed down.
If they crashed their bike because they rode where they were not allowed to go, they don't have a bike. Or they are in charge of its repair.
I'm not suggesting to abandon them to their own devices. You are there to mold and train them. They get their base of right and wrong from you. They are put on this earth to see how far they can bend the rules... Of course you will be there for them. And you can be sympathetic and understanding, but keep in mind that they take their cues from you.
Being a parent isn't always convenient, but for whatever suffering we may go through, we will be able to sleep better at night knowing that our grown children are out there making good choices... and if not, they know that they have to "suffer the consequences".
Let them "suffer" through the smaller consequences while they are still under your protection so that when they are out on their own, they will already know what to do.
Start today. At whatever age they are. No more rescues. No more bailing them out of trouble. Build their confidence in their decision making skills and develop their cognitive thinking. Cause and effect. Think about the lessons you have learned over the years. The most valuable ones coincided with failure, I'll wager. Think back on your scars and what you have learned from them. While I understand that it is sometimes a painful thing to "watch", someday, they will thank you for it. Okay, no they won't. Lol! But you'll know that confidence that your grown child exhibits, has come from you stepping just one step back.