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.
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Rachel Wigglesworth has an M.Ed. in Parent and Family Education and is excited to explore the world of raising children with you!