Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lessons Your Kids Need to be Able to Live Outside the Bubble - Day 27

The real world is harsh.  There are people in it who don't care who you are or how you feel.  There are black and white rules about cause and effect that apply to you no matter how much you cry or call foul.  Responsibility and achievement are hard work, for everyone.

I'm worried that the parenting pendulum has swung a little too far into a child-centered magical bubble philosophy.  We think that it's possible to create a bubble around our children durable enough to protect them from hard knocks and bad feelings.  In an effort to avoid pain, we're setting our kids up for some serious pain when they leave our homes.   It takes concentrated thought and planning from parents these days to launch their kids into "The Real World" without the backlash of the bubble burst leaving them with serious welts.

Now let me also say that I am for protecting childhood, stardust and fairy's, daydreams and long summer days.  I want to be serious about sending my kids off into adult-land with some great memories and stories to tell their kids about "the good old days."  But I'm just as concerned about sending them off strong and capable, not duped into thinking that the life they're dreaming of will be handed to them without any pain.

Happy but not handicapped.

That's our challenge as parents....and it's one you're going to constantly wrestle with as you raise your and your husband, talking, praying, trying to figure out what each kid needs most right now.....and then being tough enough to do what's best rather than what's sparkly.

Let me suggest some lessons you need to make sure you intertwine along the way....

How to do Hard Work, otherwise know as, There Ain't No Money Tree  

Our kids can't leave our homes without knowing what hard work feels like.  They need to know that they will survive and that they can accomplish things.  If they are old enough to walk they are old enough to help and have jobs.  Preschoolers can help carry groceries in, they can wipe down the table, little hands are big enough to do a lot of stuff if you're willing for the jobs to take twice as long.
Stand back and let them work....and let their brains work too.  If they come to you with the arms of their jackets inside out and ask for help, the best help you can give is encouragement, clues and time. It's good for their brains to puzzle it out.  Teach them how to work by letting them.

If everything is handed to them now, they'll expect it to be handed to them later.  Entitlement isn't pretty on a toddler, but it's a whole different kind of ugly on an adult.

Responsibility buys Freedom, otherwise known as, If You're Living in you Parent's Basement You're Not Grown Up

Responsibility and freedom are fused at the hip.  This is just a fact of adult life.  Every bit of responsibility shouldered brings with it a corresponding amount of freedom.  The responsibility of paying your own bills gives you the freedom of living in your own place, with your own rules.  The responsibility of putting gas in your car regularly brings you the freedom to go places.

This combo needs to trickle down into our parenting.  The preschooler who picks up her toys has the freedom to play with them more often.  The child who saves his money has the freedom to impulse buy a candy bar at the checkout lane.  Your daughter who walks close to the cart with a smile gets to chose to not be strapped into the cart like a baby.  Kids who replace the borrowed shirt they stain will have the freedom to be trusted to borrow again.  Middle schoolers who start doing their own laundry get to stay up later.  Teenagers who get good grades can enjoy the freedom of doing their homework in front of the tv.  Teenagers who  meet mom where and when they said they would have the freedom to go places.

See how that works?  Our kids need to too.

Dealing with Injustice, otherwise known as, Sometimes the Refs are Gonna Miss the Call and You've Gotta Deal

We've gotta stop fixing things for our kids.  Life is not fair.  Bad, undeserved things will happen to them.  How our kids parents handle these moments in their lives is a profound compass for our kids.

Now I'm not saying that there aren't times to stand up for our kids.  To protect them.  Respectfully get their needs met.  Our kids need to know that no matter what, Mom and Dad are for them.

What I'm saying is that the kids who's parents fuss and manipulate, see an offense around every corner and pull whatever strings they find in their hands teach their kids something powerful.  That child learns that we need to be people who fight for our rights.  We deserve something and we'll do whatever it takes to get it.  We think about ourselves more than we think about what's happening around us.  Our needs are paramount.

Or, we can teach our kids to turn the other cheek, gracefully.  We can teach them that other people deserve grace when they make mistakes, even refs.  We can encourage them to work hard enough to take the power out of the injustice, to rise above.  We can hold them, cry with them and then teach them to pray for the very ones causing our child harm.

The most beautiful thing allowing injustice to remain does in our child's life is to give them confidence in God.  Our children can't build confidence in God to take care of their impossibilities, if Mom and Dad always get there first.  Step out of the way....and let your kid need God.

Attitude Matters, other wise known as, Yes Ma'am, Yes Sir is a Magic Edge

It's really quite sad to see how much a simple "Yes Ma'am" can make a child stand out from his peers.  But it's true.  I got more than one email from high school teachers thanking me for the respectful sons I had sent their way.  The emails started praising their politeness and respect but always continued to describe many other abilities they saw glowing in my sons.

Being a respectful person gets you noticed.  The positive glow respect causes seeps into the way people see your kids in other areas of their lives they give respect, they become worthy of respect.

No child is too little to begin learning this.  Teach your preschoolers how to give a good handshake.  Expect your kids to look adults in the eye and introduce themselves loud enough to be heard.  Demand that a real-life conversation trump a text notification for your teens.

A respectful child demonstrates knowledge that they aren't the center of the universe and produces respectful adults who know how to make other people feel valuable.  This is like giving your child a pouch of magic fairy dust to take into their adult life.  Don't neglect training it.

Your kids' childhood is such a short time.  Do whatever you can to make it magical...there should be unicorns and rainbows in abundance.

Your kids' adulthood is going to be long.  Make sure you've done the front-end work to help them succeed...and be able to do it with a smile on their face.

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