The picture up there is actually a bit of an anomaly. I let the kids have their phones and games out for this lunch only…and it was like watching something out of a Kubrick film. Glued to screens.
But my kids are all pretty good thinkers and a lot of that is necessity as much as purposeful parenting.
I want the kids to think for themselves. When they have a problem I want them to come up with the answer of how to fix it. I will guide and help but I’m not fixing it for them, not any more. When they were little I did it all.
My best example: when my daughter had a class just “pop up” on her school schedule that she never even signed up for I told her to go to the registrar and get it fixed. She rolled her eyes, got stressed out, and acted like I’d grown a second head. But I made her go do it anyway. Turned out . . . a computer glitch had affected a whole bunch of students and her name was on a list of kids now that needed it fixed. Ignore the problem and she’d have flunked a class she didn’t even sign up to take.
When her wah-wah pedal (yes, that’s the name) for the guitar didn’t work I took it apart and made her watch me fix it. When it broke again? I asked if she watched me fix it the first time.
“Yes,” she said skeptically.
“Good. Then the screwdrivers are in my toolbox,” I told her. She was thrilled when she was able to do it herself.
I try to do the same with conflicts at school, with the kids having issues, with all of it. When my son faced bullying and retaliation at school I tried to have him fix the problem. He did try, and I only intervened when it was clear he truly needed my help.
This is a lesson and a necessity. I cannot fix everything. Between lunches, meals, laundry, the home, bills, work, shopping, and general parenting I have about an hour’s worth of time each day. That’s it. The rules that applied for their siblings apply to them, as well. The idea being that if they need to get something done they’ll just buckle down and do it.
That has worked, for the most part. When my son wanted cookies after school he asked if he could make them. First time he forgot an ingredient. The next time? Perfect cookies and I didn’t have to make them.
The only time it hasn’t been as successful is when I dealt with bullying at school. My son, though, tried to fix the problem himself. I give him a lot of credit for that.
My reasoning? Kids don’t need to be coddled. I play with my kids, hug them, love them, do my best by myself to parent them. But sometimes they need to take care of themselves, too. When they do they understand they’re growing up and taking on more responsibility as well. That’s a big deal, particularly as they get older.
What’s the difference? When kids around them are helpless to understand how to deal with life, not just what happens in school, my kids have already dealt with it. They didn’t wait. They were ready the day I had to tell them their mother passed away and they had to face this without one of their parents. After that, nothing was really too difficult.