Mar 8, 2012

Helping Children Become Independent- part 1

I saw this sign on Pinterest.  In this months Ensign magazine there is an article exactly about this, Helicopter Parenting.  What is that you ask?  Well Helicopter Parenting is hovering over your children and being so involved that your children can't function or make decisions for themselves.  It's cushioning our children's lives making sure their problems are solved and that pain and consequences from choices are minimized. 

"This parenting style competes with the gospel teaching that during our mortal probation we will and must face trials, heartaches, and struggles.  Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that 'life never was intended to be easy.  It is a probationary estate in which we are tested physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually'."

The article then lists 5 suggestions to protecting our children from harm without becoming Helicopter Parents. 

1. Look for opportunities to allow your children to do things for themselves, even if it means more work for you.
I once had dinner with a family whose 10 year old son still asked his mom to butter his roll.  I've also heard of many missionaries who get out into the field not knowing how to fix a bike tire, or even fill up the car with gas, because their dad always did it for them. 

There have been many times that my children have wanted to try to do something around the house, and I've been hesitant to let them because all I can think about it the mess that will be left for me to clean up after their done.  For example, my 3-year old loves and always wants to Windex the mirrors and glass door.  When she's finished there is always a whole roll of dirty paper towels strung around the house, mirrors with spots, a door with fresh little finger marks on it, and let me not forget to mention the Windex that is all over everything because she thinks a whole bottle-worth of squirts is needed to clean one small 12 x12" mirror.   I've had to learn to let my OCD-ness go.  Things don't have to always be Martha Stewart perfect. 

"Allowing and even expecting children to do things on their own prepares them to live independently in the future.  Parents should try not to do things for their children that they can do themselves.  President Boyd K. Packer has written, 'I think one of the major mistakes in teaching children, is the tendency for parents to be bothered when children want to participate and learn something'."

COME BACK MONDAY AS WE DISCUSS #2- Teach your children to work.

How about you?  How do you allow your children to do things for themselves, even if it means more work for you?  Please leave a comment.  I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences.