Before I start my rant, I am going to say, I’m not here to profess I am a perfect parent, or that I have perfect kids. I can’t imagine any one person who has actually gotten this parenting thing right in the history of time….
That said, I see issues arising from the over-intervention of parenting and it’s really sad.
Back in the day, when I was a kid, we had complete freedom. By the time I had my first child, I realized things had changed a LOT since I was a kid. Parents were more involved, seemingly creating closer bonds and children were confined closer to home.
It seemed like a great idea at the time… But over the years of raising my girls, I see how this over parenting style has gotten in the way of emotional development. In this day and age, children are empowered more and parents are empowered less, but this doesn’t prevent them from intervening every chance they get.
I’ve never really been a hoverer of my children. Yes, I kept a close eye, but when they got to the age where I could drop them at their dance class for a few hours and have freedom, I was elated. Almost didn’t know what to do with myself.
I did make myself present. I volunteered when there was a need and I enjoyed the ‘me time’ when I got to send them to middle school and simply go home. It was weird, but really nice.
When my oldest went to high school, I didn’t volunteer much. She wasn’t involved in school activities and for the first two years, I just dumped her at school and picked her up after. However, when my younger got to high school, she tried out of Pep Squad and to our delight, she made the team. I was working more at the time and hubs was pinch hitting, but after the first booster meeting, he told me I (or we) should just plan to be at every meeting…so on the calendar it went. As the year started, everything was great, but then mid season, some issues arose and, I gotta say I was a little surprised at what I was hearing.
Parents were complaining about certain aspects of the program. It wasn’t progressing as much as they would have liked to see, and as I listened, I watched the “then” coach listen and try to answer their questions. Then in one moment, I saw his shoulders go down as he knew he had to level with the parents. And I will never forget these words; “I’m doing my best, but the girls seem apathetic. They weren’t happy with the socks so we changed the socks; they weren’t happy with the bows so we changed the bows…”
He said more, but I just remember a humm coming over my ears, and I grabbed the leg of the mom next to me and said, “HOLD ME BACK!”… But she didn’t…..
As I write this, I’m still shaking my head…
Now, I have two girls and we have forked out a TON of money and sacrificed vacations for many years, for their ability to dance competitively. In the dance world, here is how it goes (at least at our studio)….
You show up, you present your child; the child tries out, the child makes however many teams with whichever coaches choose them, you commit to whatever you like, you write the check and you walk away and let the coaches and studio take your kid and do their job… 15 years of this… No questions asked….
Yet here I am in this meeting with these parents and this coach is talking about how he’s bending down to the complaints of the girls and he’s wondering why they are apathetic?
Now, in all honesty, I don’t know the whole backstory and I’m not bashing parents. I was GENUINELY confused at why kids were running the program with their complaints.
I raised my hand in the meeting and said something maybe not popular….
I said, “I’m sorry, this sounds like a parenting problem to me. I work hard to have my kids in this program and if they are handed a bow they don’t like, they just need to shut up and wear it. Same for the socks. I have a hard time understanding why these are even issues in a program?”
Some parents clapped and I’m sure some parents glared at me. But if I had the costumes with me at the time, from my girls dance years, I would have pulled out the most hideous ones and shared them with the parents and said, “You wanna talk bad socks? How about paying $150 for this and watching my kid all season parading on stage after stage!”
Since that time, I have seen more and more parent interventions where in my opinion, parents shouldn’t be, and the fallout is that I see the breaking down of the potential character growth of children.
My sister lives in Norway and has five children. Distance is nothing, I’m close with all of them. I remember when her first son was born, he was about 2 years old and wanted to cut an apple….with a knife… at TWO YEARS OLD…. ( I can feel some of you cringing right now). Instead of saying, “NO WAY JOSÉ”, I watched my brother in law take his switchblade out of his pocket, wrap his hands around his sons, and guide him as he cut the apple, one slice at a time. I won’t lie, it was the cutest thing ever. Conversely, when my kids were 5 and 6, my husband was clearing restaurant tables of steak knives for fear our children would gauge themselves in the eye (sorry I’m laughing here. I love my hubs, but he is a bit more protective than me…though he’s mellowed thank God).
Sadly, this is a sign of the times and where we live.
Now, to an extent, we should TOTALLY be there for our kids. And there truly are times that we, as parents, have to stand up for our children.
HOWEVER… if you haven’t started letting go by the time they are in high school, you are truly robbing them of the opportunity to problem solve and grow from their discomforts.
I remember when my oldest was in Kindergarten. She was a dinky thing, smallest in her class, ALWAYS…
As the kids were lining up, I stood there watching and out of no where, this girl who was quite bigger than my daughter, KICKED her in the stomach leaving my daughter shocked. I walked up and intervened as there was no teacher there yet. Instead of suing the family for this ‘ill mannered’ child (who I didn’t know at all, just off the cuff judging), I decided to make a play date with her. Crazy, I know…but keep your friends close and your ‘enemies’ closer. She wasn’t an enemy by any means, just a little girl, but you get my point.
I figured if they got to know each other, this girl would protect my child instead of make her an enemy. And to my delight, the plan worked. They became friends and all was right with the world. And, I got a new friend too in her mother and eventually the whole family!! YAY ME!!
This scenario could have gone so different if I ran to the principal and demand that the child be removed or punished. It was a Childs offense and a chance to be a learning moment.
Fast forward to high school…
I’d like to say I’m a better high school parent than an elementary school parent. I love sitting back and listening to the stories my children share about their daily interactions (when I can actually get 5 minutes with them).
My sadness comes when I hear parents jumping in to fight their kids battles. I see it often and it’s really disheartening.
Parents have a choice… they can help their children grow through the issues they are having…or they can choose to victimize their children and make them feel cheated. I honestly believe that some parents don’t realize the difference!
I’m going to throw my kid under the bus here for the sake of conversation… My child was on a team and though she wasn’t the best on the team, her work ethic stood out. She was on time, never missed, and worked her tail off for sake of not getting yelled at by the coach. It was literally a fear that she would get reamed by the coach. I LOVE THIS ABOUT MY CHILD…because she cares enough to have the coach see her effort. Over the course of her time with the team, she got talked to about bumping up her technique. In the end, she switched to another team that was a better fit and she still has the same. concerns… she wants to make her coach proud. There have been many instances over the years where she has come home and complained about this or that… I never once thought to call the coach and question their motives. I told my girls with all their coaches, “If they ever demean you in any way, come to me. If they are yelling at you because you aren’t pointing your toes, then point your damn toes!”
They have come to learn the difference over the years between a mean coach who wants to win, and a terrible coach that breaks people down. Thankfully, they have never had the latter, but have witnessed it.
I look at teachers, and coaches as people who can add value to my children’s lives. They know stuff I could never teach my children. They are there to enrich and help grow. There are times that I haven’t agreed with some decisions and there are times I have seen my kids cry… And I have watched them pick themselves up by the bootstraps, dust themselves off, dry their tears, and get back to work.
My goal in raising my kids is to empower them to make decisions for themselves. When my oldest came home from college, I told her it was her decision; she’s 18 and I’m not gonna be that mom. She decided to come home and now she’s ready to go back. And she’s ready with conviction!
My younger is just a force to be reckoned with and she doesn’t hold back at all. When she was in line at Disneyland and a guy was being mean to her friend, she laid into him and when she told me what she said (with no cuss words, which shocked me), I was so proud of her. I doubt she would be the same person if I kept her hidden behind my skirt (I don’t wear skirts, but you get my point).
The big picture fall out is kids are becoming un-coachable, self entitled and without direction. The more you fix situations for your child, the more you rob from them.
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day… teach a man to fish and he eats for life.
Stop throwing fish at your kids and let them fend for themselves. Let them see the value in those trying to teach them. Let them be disappointed and let them figure out how they will recover.
Ask yourself, “Is this something they can handle with out me? Am I undermining their ability to grow? What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t jump in”.
Your children are watching you 24/7. If you are shitting on their programs, schools or extra curriculars with your words, they are learning to shit on it too. There is a good chance they didn’t see it like that before you opened your mouth. I know because I have been there before; like I said, I’m not perfect, but I do recognize the difference now.
I was prompted to write this after talking to a few teachers this year, and witnessing events that truly shouldn’t have happened. Truth is, it’s been festering for a while.