Skipping the struggle? Really? But I want my child to be happy. I want to take care of them and see that they succeed. Skipping the struggle seems so…well, NEGATIVE.
In his book, 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, author Tim Elmore talk s about parents who over function so that their children do not have to struggle. This week I will address #7 of a 12-part series on parenting mistakes. Here are the first six:
- 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
- Mistake #5: Rescuing Children
- Mistake #6: Too Much Praise
Mistake #7: Skipping the Struggle
Parents who don’t like to see their children struggle often create a world of convenience for them, making things easy and convenient. But the message they are sending their children is that they are entitled to convenience and that struggling is BAD.
Author Tim Elmore calls it over-functioning as a parent.
Over-functioning in parenting simply means doing too much for our children, intervening and removing common struggles they may experience in their day. We intervene in our kids’ everyday lives because we know they’re stressed out by an overscheduled week of classes and activities. We hate to see them struggle and become frustrated. We feel if we just help them a bit, we can ease their struggle. Isn’t that what good parents do?
But the fact of the matter is that when parents remove struggles from their kids’ lives, they are causing them to learn to be helpless. If your child does not have the chance to build life skills they will need later, then they will not learn how to be in control, but instead how to be controlled. I don’t think that’s the kind of child you want to raise, is it?
Here’s the bottom line: when you remove struggles from your children’s path, you are actually doing more harm than the struggle itself would have caused. Your child will not develop persistence, fortitude or problem-solving, but will instead learn how to depend on others every step of the way.
Elmore quotes Dr. Aaron Sterns who explains it this way:
To attain emotional maturity, each of us must learn to develop two critical capacities: the ability to live with uncertainty and the ability to delay gratification in favor of long-range goals. Adolescence is a time of maximum resistance to further growth. It is a time characterized by the teenager’s ingenious efforts to maintain the privileges of childhood, while at the same time demanding the rights of adulthood. It is a point beyond which many humans do not pass emotionally. The more we do for our children, the less they can do for themselves. The dependent child of today is destined to become the dependent parent of tomorrow.
I understand how hard this is to do, this backing off and refusing to let your kids skip the struggle. My kids are 26, 29, and 32 and my natural instinctive response is to jump in and offer my help and immediate solutions when they face a problem. But they did not need that when they were growing up and they certainly don’t need it now. And if I happen to step over the line accidentally, they are quick to let me know they can handle things by themselves.
So, parents, please do your children a favor: let them fail, let them fall, let them face fears and let them fight their own battles.
When we eliminate challenges and difficulties from their lives, kids are conditioned to give up easily without trying.
I strongly suggest you read Elmore’s book. There’s so much more in it and I honestly believe it will change the way you parent. By the way, there’s nothing in this for me; I just happen to think it’s a great read!