Parenting is tough. When our children are young we naturally want to do everything for them but modern parenting books tell us we need to let life teach its own lessons from an early age. Surely there must be some middle ground?
I have read a few of these books and I understand logically that I should let life teach my daughter as many lessons as possible, but then I just can’t feel OK that she might go hungry one day because she forgot to pack her lunch. After all, she’s only seven. So I compromise.
While she is getting ready (which involves about 5 minutes of actual ‘getting ready for school time’ and 20 minutes of ‘looking at myself in front of the mirror’ – something I’ll have to leave for another ‘blog .. ) I will sneak a peek at the contents of her bag. Then, when she’s walking out the door I’ll say, “Do you think you might just want to quickly check that you’ve got everything before we go?” hoping desperately that now that her hair has the appropriate ribbons fitted to her liking, she will realise that food might be something important to consider.
I think I might find it particularly difficult because as a dad I know I have a natural urge to be the ‘fixer’ in the family and so stepping back and realising that my little girl is able to do things for herself can evoke in me a mix of pain and pride. I have found, though, that with perseverance (on my part) she is becoming more independent, has higher self-esteem and is basically happier with herself all-round. For what it is worth, here are my tips!
Perception is key. They have to think that you are going to stop remembering everything for them. Doing this with love is often the challenge. In the mornings, for example, when we’re all tired and don’t really have the energy for a lot of mind-games, what works for me is turning a statement such as, “Hurry up – we’re late!” into a question such as, “What time are we going today?” followed by, “so how much time do you have then until we go?” Believe it or not, she now tells me if it’s getting close to 8 o’clock.
When things don’t go to plan
Despite your best efforts, your child is eventually going to forget something. At this point, don’t ever say, “I told you so!” While you might feel validated momentarily this won’t last long, as all that will happen is that you’ll come across as being mean (which means they’ll be twice as likely to do whatever it was again next time just to spite you) and they will feel stupid. At this point, hugs are great. As are cookies. And if you really want to have the world come across as the bad guy and open channels of communication, treat this moment as a real opportunity and offer ice-cream!
We all love our kids. They’re adorable (most of the time). Take it from a Dad: seeing them growing up and starting to take on life on their own is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have. If you think about it, the ‘wow’ moments you have as a parent come from seeing them do things, not from the times you do things for them.
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