“Please let us grow….love, the children!”
The case of the “helicopter” parent is no longer the exception to the rule; or the “snow flake parent”, or the “tea cupper”, or the enabler/entitler…or any of the other doting parents that micro-manage their children’s lives…it now is the rule! The “achievement proxy syndrome” has run amok in today’s culture. So many parents want what is best for their youngsters that they forget to care about the damage that can be done by “doing” for them! No matter how well a child does, it will not magically “erase” the trauma of the parent’s childhood. There are not enough shiny medals, 4.0 GPAs, and other awards that will transform parents’ failures of the past into revisionist history!
Youngsters are very bright and quick to learn, both in school and in the other places they inhabit. It is not necessary to watch over them every minute or dictate what to say or do in every situation. In order to learn the life lessons to survive, they must learn to fall down and fail, then…to get up and try again and to persevere in their pursuits. The ultimate life lessons are learning to deal with failure and lack of success. Life is very difficult and certainly not fair; the sooner the youngsters learn this, the faster they will figure out their paths to what they wish to do and become good solid citizens. Parents need to provide a safe and viable environment so each child may develop their own personality and build their own internal set of ethics. It will happen without being told each and every day what to do and not do!!
Today, the most important job for a parent is to be a positive and true role model. Society and the bombardment of mixed signals from media do not provide any guidance but are relentless in showing the spectacular and sensational. Social media has NO depth and provides little, if any valuable teachings. The concepts a strong work ethic, a disciplined life style, and other “life lessons” are ignored so the inane communications can foster a false sense of reality. It is time to “let it be” and trust our next generations to learn on their own, with parental love and guidance when appropriate!
Some viable suggestions:
- Stop treating kids as if they are the royalty or impervious to rules. They do not need a gift on a sibling’s birthday or when a new born arrives! If they are tardy to school or an appointment, they should “pay the price”. Moreover, do not make special meals for them; they eat what the whole family eats.
- Limit or eliminate the “screens” in their life. Create a solid set of rules as to when “screens” are available and may be used. Telephones are not a toy nor need they be used every minute to tweet, text, etal. Video games are fun, but also addictive and do not really teach anything but how to “thumb” something!
- Be more concerned with diet than taste. Provide a healthy meal schedule and limit the intake of sugar and other deleterious substances. Eat five colors at each and every meal! “Fast food” equates to fat kids.
- Do not create excuses or rationalizations so they feel they can just go at their will.
- Do not drive them everywhere! The new generations do have legs and they function fine…usage will strengthen these and provide a life-long means of transportation. If they will not walk then they probably do not want to go there very badly…could also use a bike!
- Quit pushing!! Everyone wants their youngster to be successful and have worthwhile experiences. Do not force them into activities, especially sports, and then push them to extra workouts, individual coaching, and specialty camps. Many of today’s injuries are resulting from chronic overuse of the body. Keep your sports’ ambitions to yourself and let them get the proper rest and nutrition rather than more games and so many teams.
- Youngsters do not need special sports training and personal coaches. If a youngster wishes to GET GOOD, then it will behoove him/her to work on their skill sets by doing drills and hard work to improve. The biggest sin in the past 30 years has been the dissolution of sandlot sports. Getting out to the fields, without adults, will improve any kid’s game, no matter the sport or activity! And, guess what? No one will kidnap them and abscond with them!!
- Put “the ROPE” back in the schools! The “hanging menace” does put the fear of failure in EVERY one. Put it back in gym class(after you put gym class back) or in the schools, and have the youngsters figure out how to climb it! How about the peg board?…another necessary “evil” that will test their mettle and provide the ultimate challenge!
- Eliminate the urge to provide the most expensive equipment, clothes, and other materialistic icons of opulence. The old saying that “only a poor carpenter blames his tools” is apropos and youngsters can make do with less than perfect “tools”. Hand-me-downs and inexpensive sports equipment will not deter anyone from success, and in fact, may be the better teaching aids. Do not bribe them to participate!
- Let the kids play dodge ball, tag, and all the other games that are currently being banned in the schools because they are “dangerous” or “harming” self-esteem. Being IT is sometimes very cool and teaches one to defend and rise to the challenge. If supervised properly, any game will be fun and competitive; it might even rid some of the anti-social behavior that later is expressed with shootings or bullying!!?
- One Sport NOT! Youngsters need to experience many athletic adventures. Limiting them to just one creates the “one trick pony” and puts all their eggs in one basket. Youngsters must learn that balance in one’s life, diet included, will provide a healthier mental and physical development. Playing one sport can lead to over-use injuries, burnout, and the failure to enjoy more than one extra-curricular activity. Encourage them to try a variety of sports, and, let THEM choose!
- Provide important chores to be done on a scheduled basis. A chore is a sign of love and trust, as well as teaching responsibility and self-worth. Chores build character, teach team work, and show the child that he/she has an important position in the family. More manual labor would not hurt anyone!!!
- Punishment is not death!! Bad or improper behavior must be accounted for and punishment should be enforced. Many parents feel that saying a child is wrong is a sin; it is not, it is a parental responsibility! You are not his/her friend but the parent.
- Medals/trophies for everyone? That is the ultimate insult to hard work and competition. Being second or even last, should spur the youngsters to work harder and strive for their goals. Rewarding mediocrity or failure does not teach anything.
- Then there is the nanny or “manny” or au pere…let’s not even go there!!! Really? Have a child then hand him/her off to someone else. Go figure?
At the end of the day, the key to parenting is quite simple. It is a privilege that requires hard work and “tough love”. Empower your prodigy and provide a strong moral and ethical environment. Youngsters do not need to be treated with “kid gloves” but need to become self-reliant and responsible/accountable for their actions. They will learn the “life lessons” needed to attain their goals, and many times it will take a spill or two to get there. Encourage independence, problem-solving, decision-making, and try not to over-schedule their time. The sooner they find out that “life is not fair” nor equal, they will relax take the bull by the tail and live happily ever after…”let it be!” Entitlement is a yoke of dysfunction.
How smart are kids?
A barber is in his shop and tells his customer that the youngster who is walking in, is without a doubt, the dumbest kid ever! To prove it, the barber puts 2 quarters in one hand and a dollar in the other. The kid takes the two quarters and leaves. The barber says see as he laughs! On his way home the customer sees the kid buying candy at the local store. He asks the kid why he took the quarters and not the dollar. The kid says, “Because if I take the dollar, he won’t offer me the choice anymore and the game’s over!”
“Baseball may not change the world, BUT it can change a youngster’s life”