My plea to all parents – please stop saving your children!
I was driving with one of my friends who has just had a baby and she was telling me how terrified she is and how she is dreading the teen years. After informing her how the teen years, while a little bit challenging can also be extremely enjoyable, she asked me a great question.
“What is the one thing you would tell parents to stop doing so that the teen years will be a little easier?” I had to think a lot because to be honest there are so many but then without hesitation I answered.
“Stop running in to save your children!” She looked as me a little bewildered so I continue to tell her this story.
When my eldest was little I use to go on mummy dates a lot, particularly with this one mummy, lets call her Amanda. Amanda and I could not have been more different; if her child started to crawl towards the gravel she would run over to sweep her up so she didn’t get hurt. I would leave Bronte to figure out that crawling on the gravel was probably not the best idea. If Bronte refused to get dressed in the morning she went to school in her pyjamas (please note I only did that once, it never happened again after that!) If Amanda’s child did the same, cue thirty minutes of persuading and being late for school. This continued as they grew up; Amanda never letting her child go to the shops alone because she was too scared, me letting Bronte know that if she wanted to get that must-have thing she needed to take the trip herself (the shop was just across the road). Amanda never let her daughter walk to school because it scared her; Bronte had no option because I am not a taxi. When Bronte got a detention she did it, while Amanda would ring up, plead her daughter’s defence and get the charges dropped.
Now both 19, Bronte is at university, she has written her first book and is a confident young lady, Amanda’s daughter has panic attacks and dropped out of college because she finds it too challenging emotionally.
I am not judging Amanda for her parenting techniques, nor am I saying that she is wrong and I am right. However, what I can confidently say is that if as a parent you always rush in to save your child from every difficult situation because you don’t want them to fail, feel uncomfortable or get their feelings hurt, your child may grow up dependent, unable to take responsibility and afraid of everything. I see it all the time in my client’s; bright, intelligent young people afraid to do anything, not taking responsibilities for themselves and always leaning on their parents to get them out of trouble.
So my one bit of advice to make the teen years easy is please, don’t save your children. If they are in danger then clearly yes, but most of the time they aren’t. Instead of saving them, give them the gift of learning how truly responsible and confident they can be and how they absolutely can and will cope without you.