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The Disservice We’re Doing Our Kids

Back-to-school always renders me overwhelmed. The daily emails that come home from school, the PTO wind-up, meet the teachers, etc. My husband and I are barely able to keep pace as two working parents… and we have live-in help! We kill ourselves to make sure the girls do their homework and have the stuff they need for school projects, that we show up to the book fair and family fun night. Otherwise, I worry, Nadia and Alexa will be those kids that don’t have the right school supplies or are missing the family photo on the bulletin board.

But after speaking to a girlfriend of mine, I’m thinking: Why are these responsibilities pushed on the parents? And aren’t we doing our kids a disservice by absolving them from any kind of preparation or accountability? What happens when you give you enable too much and delegate too little at work? Do your employees step up?

My friend is a successful business owner, who was widowed when her two kids were very young. For much of their life, she was a single parent… that still managed to do everything for them. And yet, she said, in her town she felt like the bad parent/uninvolved mom. Flash forward to now and her kids are 19 and 18. One missed the deadline to sign up for community college and the other dropped out of high school with only a semester to go.

My friend is asking herself where she went wrong. Her kids can’t do anything for themselves, show no initiative, have no interest in the world outside their heads. So now she’s thinking: Maybe they came to rely on me too much.

Scott and I see it firsthand in recruiting and real estate. He could be taking out a young buyer, and their mom will come tagging along. Or I’ll offer a twenty-something year old a job and they’ll have to run it by their parents. Yet they’re adults. How did we let this happen?!

I’m trying to raise independent, resourceful kids, and I’m catching flak from the schools and other parents who demand I be more involved.

Everybody loves to debate the virtues of Lean Forward or Tiger Mom, but aren’t these another rendition of “How can we do more?” I want to do less. Less as in “I’m going to the neighbor’s for a martini. Can you kids find something to eat?” like our parents’ generation did. I think we all turned out okay. Why do beat ourselves up when we can’t be class mom, coach sports and check our kids’ homework every night? Why do we compete with other parents?

When I was writing last week’s post, I came across a study finding that US Millenials lacked basic math, literacy and decision-making skills. What?! These are pretty critical life skills. I don’t blame the education system for this, I think it’s lack of practical application. For example, having a summer job and figuring out where your gas money is coming from should help with math, decision-making and prioritization.

We’re doing our kids a huge injustice by not challenging them to figure stuff out on their own.

Let’s start a movement. I don’t know what we’ll call it. Right now I just have a vision of my friend begging her kids 20 times to find their gear so see could drive them to lacrosse practice. And finally she broke down and screamed: “Get your sh*t together!” from the car window. Only to immediately regret it as her neighbors looked on like she was some big mean nutjob.

No doubt, we’re making ourselves nuts. This has got to end now. Who’s with me?

Step One: I liked this article that ran on The Today Show site about the parenting behaviors that contribute to entitled kids and how to cut them out. I recognized myself in all of them.



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