I recently had a conversation with a group of parents where we were discussing power struggles with our children. One mom shared her struggle with her elementary aged son. She was frustrated that he gave her such grief about wearing what she wanted him to wear. Myself and the rest of the group asked for more information, i.e., why did she feel the need to pick out his clothing. She indicated that her son would wear things that didn't match or were worn with overuse.
Of course, being a good mom she was concerned about him getting teased by other kids, what people might think of her as a parent, etc. I think most of us understand her concerns. Many of us with school aged children have had similar experiences. We know how cruel children can be or how quick professionals and other parents are to make judgments based on appearance. Despite this, my question to this mother was "Whose problem is it if your son wears worn or mismatched clothes to school?" She replied it was hers. "Really?" I queried.
As parents, we often make our kids problems our own. For example, the school aged child who forgets to bring his lunch or his homework. Often, parents are quick to come to their rescue by bringing the forgotten item to school. My question to you, however, is what did we just teach them? We just taught them that they don't need to worry about these problems because we will. Some might think this sounds harsh, but the overall goal is to teach our children to think for themselves and grow into responsible adults. We are interfering with their learning when we make their problems our own. Not to mention, this is how we as parents become so overwhelmed and stressed!
I recall several years ago a mother of two, ages 5 and 7, who shared how stressful her morning routine was. When asked why, she spouted off a list of things she was responsible for every morning, i.e., making sure the kids ate breakfast, that they were dressed, that they had their homework, lunch, backpack, coat, etc. She was even carrying all their things out to the car each morning ON TOP OF all her own work items! No wonder she was so stressed! Even the youngest children can learn to be responsible for such things in the morning. She eventually handled the problem of remembering all these things back to her kids and they were able to handle it without any problems. They learned to be more responsible and, as a result, she was able to experience a much calmer morning routine!
So the point of this post is really that we need to sometimes re-evaluate whose problem it is. Are we taking on things at the expense of our child's learning? Why are we doing this? How can I hand the problem back to him/her so that they can learn from the experience? It can sometimes be a tough thing to do, but remember, we are trying to prepare our kids for the real world and they will be hard pressed to find people who WANT to solve/handle their problems when they are adults.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Have you been taking on problems that aren't yours? How has that been working for you? Please share your experiences!