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As I observe parents and families today I notice a common thread: many parents give their children too much and expect too little from them.
Let me list some things that parents give in excess to show you what I mean.
• Parents give their children too much stuff from toys to clothes to electronic gadgets so that their children’s lives are cluttered from birth to adolescence.
• Parents give their kids too much information and advice so that the children never get a chance to figure things out for themselves.
• Parents give their children too much attention so that the children never get a chance to self-entertain.
• Parents expose their children to too much noise from talking toys to loud music so the children don’t get a chance to learn the blessings of silence.
• Parents give their kids too much screen time from TV to video games to computers.
• Parents give their kids too much interference into their lives at school and their friendships so the children don’t get a chance to solve their own problems.
• Parents give their children too much indulgence when it comes to behaviors that need correction.
• Parents hover over their children giving them too many fears about the world and not enough space to figure out the world.
• Parents keep giving their children the message that they need their parents to rescue them from any problem which translates into my parents don’t trust me to solve any problems myself.
Get the picture? Obviously I exaggerate a bit to make my point. But parents who overdo the “gives” are not doing their children any favors. Too many children today, sophisticated when it comes to pop culture and surrounded by all their stuff, are not as independent at a given age as I was. One example, I could walk to a neighborhood store and make purchases like milk for the family when I was only 8. At 11 I took public transportation (not a school bus but a street car, an elevated train, and then another street car) to get to school. I recognize that the world has changed and may not be as safe today.
But I was given something many kids today do not get: the ability to be independent and responsible before I got a driver’s license.
Think about what you may be giving your own children in excess and modify what you can. Face the fact that all of us are manipulated by the media and advertising/marketing industries into feeling that if we don’t buy all this excess stuff for our children and we don’t hover over them all the time we are not good parents.
Good parenting comprises a lot of giving. Giving of ourselves, our time, our energy, our love. But it does not include giving so much that we harm our children.
Next month I will provide you with my ideas about parents expecting too little of their children in PARENTING PITFALL # II.
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