I think that the best thing we can do for our children is to allow them to do things for themselves, allow them to be strong, allow them to experience life on their own terms, allow them to take the subway… let them be better people, let them believe more in themselves.” ― C. JoyBell C.
Things have shifted for me, parenting-wise. I now have 4 children (can I still call them that?) ranging from 15 to 22, all still at home. I know that won’t last much longer, but for the moment, they are all still here. Having older kids―each involved in their own jobs, schooling, or activities―looks completely different than when they were all little. In a sense, it was easier then―I knew what to do, though physically it was exhausting. Now, it’s not as hard on the body as it is on the mind and heart.
Thankfully, I have a friend whose kids are older than mine, and she has given me two great pieces of advice. Sometimes I forget to use that advice and things don’t work out so well. Then I remember her words and purpose to use them again. Today I shall share the first one with you.
Tip #1: Stop Helping!
The first of her words of wisdom has to do with changing how I help them. This is very hard, because as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother, I have been fully immersed in their lives and in teaching them what to do. Now, I am supposed to stop helping them. That is a big shift! It’s hard for several reasons: firstly, because it is a habit of decades, and secondly, because I know it means that when I don’t help or remind them, they might make mistakes. I know this is a good thing, but it’s still hard to do.
To illustrate this, my friend described one day as she chased after her son with something he forgot, her husband threw himself in front of the door, blocking her exit with his body and arms extended.
“Stop!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing?”
“I’m giving him his book that he forgot,” my friend explained.
“What will happen if you don’t give it to him?” her husband questioned.
“He won’t have what he needs for his class,” she replied.
“And then what?” continued her husband.
She thought about that one before sheepishly replying, “Then he’ll be more likely to remember it next time.”
“Exactly!” finished her husband, releasing his hold on the doorway.
That story really hit home with me, because that was how I was parenting. Reminding, helping, chasing after, doing whatever I could to “help” my kids succeed. It was a lot of work! But was I really helping? I don’t think so. Now that I am more practiced at this new parenting skill, I must say it comes with benefits. I no longer fret and try to make things happen. Instead, I step back and let things happen (mostly 😉 ). The many things that were once my responsibility are now being lifted from my shoulders.
Of course, I am still there to help if they need me, but it’s more coming alongside instead of leading the way. And to be honest, I like it much better this way.