Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Voluntary Servitude

When do you do too much for your kids?

You just love them. You want to make sure they know that! So, over the years you have cut the crusts off their sandwiches, dutifully delivered lunches when they forgot them, helped with homework, and generally gone out of your way to be a good parent! You even let a certain amount of verbal abuse go by... because well, you love them and it takes energy to fight all the time so you "pick your battles."

Isn't that okay?

The real question is are you raising a child who will be able to fully and completely take over their life somewhere between he ages of 16 and 18? That means they need to be able to handle life with out you...
  • Handle money knowing they won't be rescued or given loans if they overspend.
  • Do their own laundry.
  • Cook simple meals for themselves and others.
  • Handle homework on their own.
  • Take the car to get the oil changed or change it themselves if money is tight.
  • Do their own college applications,
  • Pay for their own parking and speeding tickets.
  • Keep track of their own schedules knowing when they have to be somewhere.
  • Share chores with their roommates.
  • Treat others with courtesy and contribute positively to relationships.

So, this level of responsibility starts now. Serving children too much retards their growth and ends up damaging self esteem as they struggle with competence.

Loving parents help kids be ready for the real world instead of trying to protect them from it. If you have been doing too much for your kids now is the time to slowly start backing away. Start by teaching a skill (like laundry or meal preparation or keeping a calendar) and then let them use that skill with real world consequences when they fail.

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