I recently fetched some friends from the airport, and I saw with dismay two healthy young girls, about 8 years old, sitting on their carry-on wheelie bags while their exhausted mom trudged along in front pulling them by each case’s rope.
A similar story unfolds at my children’s school – parents carrying their children’s bags into school for them. Often more than one bag. And walking along in front of the parent struts the child.
This is a physical expression indicative of a wider issue among parents – this tendency to take on stuff that is rightfully the child’s to own and manage.
I’m not only referring to their physical stuff – parents love to take on their children’s psychological and emotional stuff too. If children are bullies, or mean to other kids, parents jump in a try to solve the problem before their child ever feels the consequences that are rightfully theirs to experience. Conversely kindness and generosity will be experienced directly by the child too. Nagging them to do homework falls into this category – they should experience the consequence of not doing their homework, of not putting their clothes in the wash, of not taking care of their sports equipment, etc, etc.
Yes, we as parents are there to teach and guide them but there should be a line drawn in the metaphorical sand beyond which whatever life presents them with belongs entirely to the child.
The more we let them practice dealing with the things life throws at them, the more resilient they become, and the more confident in themselves they will be.
Teach your children to stand up for themselves and experience life’s consequences while you are there to buffer and guide (and help them pick up the pieces!)
Live your own life and give them the tools to help them live theirs far beyond when you’re around to mop up for them…