Rescuing children is okay when they are hurt or in danger, but not in everyday life. Being Super mom or dad is okay if you are not addicted to the rescue.
This is #5 of a 12-part series on parenting mistakes. Here are the first four:
- Mistake #1: Parents not letting their kids fail
- Mistake #2: Parents project their lives on their children
- Mistake #3: Putting too much emphasis on being happy
- Mistake #4: Inconsistency
Today, we tackle Mistake #5: Rescuing your child
Do you find yourself rescuing your child every time they get into trouble? If so, you are teaching your child to lean on you for every little thing. And the end result is an adult who cannot accept the consequences for their choices and inevitably blames someone or something else for their problem.
In his book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, author Tim Elmore tells the story of one soccer mom: Her young son threw a fit every time his soccer team lost. He went ballistic–screaming, throwing things, and even getting violent if someone tried to stop him. The mom’s solution? For a long as possible, she would simply tell her little boy the game ended in a tie.
He talks about a dad whose daughter was constantly lying to her teacher, friends, and parents. Her dad appeased everyone by covering for her and explaining that she had a problem with self-esteem and thus had problem with honesty. Later in life, however, the girl was unable to get a job because no one trusted her.
Do you make excuses for your child? Cover for them? Give in to them? Lie for them? Negotiate for them?
In the long run, these parenting behaviors will create all kinds of problems for both parents and kids. When we insulate kids and remove consequences from actions, we fail to prepare them for the future that awaits them as they mature.
As a mom who raised athletes, I know it was easy to fall into this trap. We want our kids to do well in sports, to feel good about their performances, so we do whatever we can to bring immediate peace to a situation. We either step in and fight their battles for them–i.e. talking to the coach about playing time–or pay the consequences for them–i.e. doing their chores because they had a late practice and just want to relax and play video games.
Removing consequences may bring short-term peace, but it results in long-term problems. The question for every parent is this: are you parenting only for today, or are you parenting for the long-term impact on your child?
Kids who’ve never tested their abilities grow into emotionally brittle young adults who are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
If parents don’t let their kids learn from consequences, they will grow up to be irresponsible, lazy, dependent on others, and emotionally brittle–NOT the kind of child any of us wants to raise, I’m sure.
By wanting our children and students to be happy, we may have created the most depressed population of kids in recent history. By leading them this way, we have all but removed the ambition in them. And as their possibility of failure goes down, so does their value of success.
The bottom line? Let your kids struggle, reward them for hard work and success, and stop making excuses for them.