We are raising our children in a rapidly transforming world and not doing a great job at it by the looks of various measures including stress level, anxiety level, performance, health, teen and child suicide, eating disorders, binge drinking and substance abuse.
Our kids are our future and when we are not improving our kids, our future is in jeopardy.
So what are some of the challenges…(please comment on this important thread, we really need a dialog and exchange of thinking on this)
The pressures on parents today to micromanage our kids day is incredible. If you are not scheduling your child's every free moment toward sports, arts, social activities or other group activities then the presumption is that you just don't care enough about your kids. But have we really taken a close look at what micro-management of a child's schedule does to them?
- It stresses them out (would you like someone micro-managing your time?)
- It takes away control from them, one of the most demeaning and harmful things we can do to a person is take their sense of control for their situation and life
- We take responsibility (as parents, teachers and coaches) such that kids fail to even understand what responsibility even means let alone how to internalize and behave accordingly
- We sap them of their creativity. Minds grow through self- actualization and imagination…we don't allow them to find themselves or exercise their creative energies
- We force them to tune us out. We control so much of their lives that when it comes to getting their attention, they've had enough and look for every opportunity to tune you out
All parent struggle with this one…when should we give up control and let our kids fail, experience challenges and rebound from adversity?
Too much protection means they never learn to deal with setbacks (creating huge anxiety, fear and resentment issues in life) while too much leeway says you don't care which can also lead to deviant behavior as your child tries to find meaning on their own (often in the wrong areas).
Society has long had a grasp on the second issue…we know that we must be there to care for and support kids as they grow – the more we nurture them and offer stable, loving relationships the better developed they become.
However, this concept of smothering a child is relatively new this generation and is causing some very painful outcomes.
Smothering a child to the point of never letting them experience, deal with and rebound from setbacks is a surefire way to institute anxiety and fear…if we do not KNOW that we can deal with adversity, that leads to doubt which leads to fear and anxiety.
Yes, love and keep a strong bond with your kids, but that love must be unconditional on letting them develop as a real human being who makes mistakes, has accidents and learns from them. Be there when they need you, but let them figure things out on their own when they don't.
Easier said than done I know (as a parent), but we must know how much harm we are potentially causing with our kids' development when we insist on controlling and interrupting their lives. Let's be aware that we are living in an age of raising "fragile" kids riddled with anxieties, fear and uncertainty.
Let them experience, let them grow, let them plan their day, let them feel the consequences when they don't live up to their responsibilities, let them learn as you did – through their mistakes and let them feel the power you felt when you overcame adversity.
Taking any of this away from them forces us to face the question…are we stealing our child's childhood for them or is it selfish behavior on our part?