Years ago, an old coworker and I were discussing the different strategies that parents use to raise their children. Since neither of us was parents ourselves, we had no business even talking about it but we thought we knew everything (as most people that don’t have kids tend to do.) After all, it is significantly easier to dish out advice when you haven’t the slightest idea of how to do it.
With that being said, my co-worker DiD provide insight that I think was helpful and accurate and words of wisdom I employ to this very day with my own offspring.
“Parents aren’t supposed to be raising children; they are supposed to be raising adults.”
At first, that might sound somewhat counterintuitive, but it makes sense and has helped shape the way I view parenting.
Here’s the thing: we want our kids to enjoy being kids. They only get that opportunity once. They only get one shot at enjoying little things like building forts or playing in the rain or mismatching outfits or playing princess. When you do these things as an adult, people look at you funny. So, I am fully cognizant of the importance of enjoying childhood when you can, because it’s precious. Never rob these things from your child.
However, it is true that we are raising them to be adults. That’s the entire point of parenting and as soon as you understand that distinction, the faster your child will learn independence and be able to handle “the real world” better.
And this doesn’t just mean how to clean up or brush teeth or make beds or help with dishes. It means understanding how to process physical and emotional pain. It’s teaching manners like not interrupting. It’s teaching how to treat other people while still maintaining self-respect. It’s teaching boundaries and self-autonomy. It’s teaching how things work so they can fix things when they break later down the road. Its teaching politeness, empathy, and courage.
While I understand many of us WISH our kids can be young forever, the reality is that they won’t be. And we have to prepare them for adulthood because that is where they need the most direction.
Being a child – most of them already have the hang of that. Adulthood – much harder to navigate, so give them the proper tools to build that foundation.