I will admit - I like to be in control. As a parent, this means I have to hold myself back on a daily basis from doing something for or saying something to my kids that undermines not only their ability to do things for themselves but also how they feel about themselves. It is a regular battle. Author and parent educator Vicki Hoefle suggests duct tape - for the parents’ mouth! Beyond ripping all the hairs off my upper lip, holding my tongue has become a daily practice that I am constantly working to master. Holding my tongue allows me to step back and think about what is really important as the end result of any given interaction I have with my kids. Again, in no way am I proficient with this -- it is a daily practice.
What is really important? That I teach my kids skills, that I have faith in their abilities, that I encourage them, and that I strengthen rather than fracture our relationship. How I react to and interact with my kids can build character strengths in my kids or tear them down.
Read this week's column in Jackson Hole News and Guide to consider the idea that while we are living with toddlers through teens, we are actually raising an adult. This is the last in my four-part series on ideas that stem from the college admissions scandal. See below to find past articles in the series exploring our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their future and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
In thinking about this week's column in Jackson Hole News and Guide, I've found that it's really hard for me to not help my kids. In our house, we have expectations that our kids' morning routines are their own. This includes making their own breakfast and lunch. But sometimes they wake up tired; they don't given themselves enough time; they end up late for school. So what do I do? I help. I have no problem with this on the surface. I enjoy helping others. Yet my help with lunch making or putting dishes in the dishwasher is not allowing them to fully be in charge of their lives or learn what it takes to get somewhere on time. And honestly, since this pattern has become somewhat frequent in our house, I can become resentful. Resentful that I become the maid, resentful that I allow boundaries to slip.
This morning I said to my kids, "It's no skin off my back if you are late to school". I said this with kindness. Whatever consequences they receive from the school for being late is on them. I also said, "the problem is that it's really hard for me to not help, especially when we're all running around and stressed about being late". I told them I'm going to try really hard to stop helping in the mornings. This will be hard for me, and in reading this it may sound unkind. But because this problem keeps coming back in our house, my helping is not teaching them responsibility for their own lives.
My family's morning routine is just a small example of the things we do for our kids that they are capable of doing for themselves. Where do you find the balance between helping your kids and holding them responsible for doing things for themselves, even if it means there might be consequences if they don't get it "right"? Read this week's column in the Jackson Hole News and Guide to consider the balance between helping our kids navigate life experiences and sheltering them from what life throws their way; and the fear and love that motivates us to do things for our kids.
The recent college admission scandal brings up many thoughts on today’s parenting challenges. My newest column in Jackson Hole News & Guide is the third in a biweekly four-part series that explores our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their future and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
I've been thinking a lot about my recent column in Jackson Hole News & Guide titled "Think who, not what, you want your kids to be". Take a minute and think -- what is most important to you in your child's development as they launch into adulthood? Does it stem from values and internal character traits, or does it stem from external forces and material gains? There can be arguments for the value of both; and often in today's world it can be easy to overlook the internal traits for the external gains.
While the title of the article speaks to the importance of our kids' character, the article is mostly about our fears and worries about our kids' futures. I know all too well that our fears and worries can come up when we focus on who our kids become just as much as when we focus on what our kids become. The point is that relaxing about our kids' futures might be the best way for them to not only thrive but to also allow their own identities, hopes and dreams to emerge.
The recent college admission scandal brings up many thoughts on today’s parenting challenges. This week's column is the second in a biweekly four-part series that explores our deep love for our kids, anxieties we may have about their futures and how we can help our kids to grow into thriving adults.
Read my latest article to ponder these ideas more - and check out my newest class "Raising an Adult" if you want to explore these ideas in your family.
Rachel Wigglesworth has an M.Ed. in Parent and Family Education and is excited to explore the world of raising children with you!