Parents don’t have to be exhausted
I interact with a lot of parents, both from being a pastor and from the fact I am a parent, as are most of my friends.
I have noticed two things recently. One that is obvious and one that isn’t so obvious.
The obvious one is most parents I know are exhausted. That’s not exactly rocket science. Being a parent is time-consuming, sacrificial and energy-draining. It is hard being needed at all times, at the most inconvenient times and it is a very thankless job.
However, the one that might not be so obvious is something that has been an increasingly popular trend among parents in the last 30 years. I don’t know how it started, why it started or who started it, but it has become so ingrained in the American parent that most of us don’t even notice that we are doing it.
It has negatively affected our kids, our society and, ultimately, us as parents; and it is one of the main reasons why parents are exhausted all the time.
Want to know what it is? It’s simple.
We do things for our kids that they can do for themselves.
When my kids were younger, I would catchmyself putting my 6-year-old’s shoes on for him. I ask myself, why the heck am I putting a 6-year-old’s shoes on for him? He can do it himself.
My wife and I would catch ourselves setting the table at dinnertime (after going to work, earning the money to pay for dinner, coming home, fixing the meal and getting it all ready etc). Why? My three kids are fully capable of setting the table.
We still catch ourselves waking our kids up in the morning for school. Why? They can set their own alarms.
Unfortunately, this is a revolutionary concept to far too many parents today.
I know a parent who still opens the car door for her 10-year-old. I know another parent who still pours the milk on the cereal of her 12-year-old. Still, another parent lays out the clothes for her 16-year-old the night before school.
We catch ourselves doing things for our children they are fully capable of doing for themselves. We make very few demands of our children. Meanwhile, mom and dad are mowing the lawn, dusting, doing laundry and fixing meals while the kids contribute very little or nothing at all. And we wonder why we are so tired all the time?
This is a fairly recent phenomenon in American history. Most of us in our 30s and 40s grew up with long lists of chores we had to do to contribute to the family.
Most parents I know today, by their own admission, have very few chores for their kids to do if any at all.
Somewhere in American culture, it was communicated to parents it is our job to serve our kids. It was communicated this is what a good parent does. It’s not.
A good parent is one who prepares his or her child for adulthood.
A good parent is one who teaches the child being part of the family is greater than showing up at mealtime and having mom and dad pay for their cell phone coverage.
A good parent teaches work ethic, humility, faith, financial responsibility and the importance of being others-centered. That doesn’t happen with mom and dad doing all the work.
Parents today sit down and make a list of things you constantly do for your kids that they can do for themselves. Then, stop doing them.
Oh, your kids will bellyache and whine and cry and accuse you of being unfair. Then, they will suck it up and do it themselves.
We are doing our children no favors whatsoever by doing things for them they are capable of doing for themselves.
Remember, you are raising adults not children. If you raise a child, what do you get?A child.
If you raise an adult, you get an adult.
That should be our ultimate goal as parents to produce self-sufficient, free, independent adults capable of managing their own lives without us.
We won’t be around forever. Our children need to learn to provide for themselves.
David Kibler is a lifestyle columnist who contributes often to the The Jessamine Journal.