Are We Coddling Our Kids Too Much?
Lately I have heard of tiny babies with elaborate birthday parties, a mom who makes an annual time capsule for her son to give him on his 18th birthday and parents who worry about their children’s safety the moment they walk out the door. Have we become the generation that is coddling our kids to the point of insanity? Is there another way?
Letting Kids Fail
As children I remember heading out of doors every summer without a care in the world. We would wander the neighborhood with friends, catch pollywogs in the nearby streams and ride our bikes for hours on end as a pack. I am betting my mother had no idea where I was every day and didn’t worry about it. Today’s kids cannot leave the tether of mom and dad without reporting in, often via the usual cell phone. If they cannot figure something out, help is as near as a phone call. We don’t trust them enough to let them fail. And yet failing is how we all learn.
Letting Go Of Coddling Our Kids
The phrase “helicopter parents”, which has become so familiar, was coined in a book called Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. In it they discuss the hovering parent who never lets the child learn by their own failures and triumphs. We award kids for just showing up and never allow them their own successes. Another book that has continued this trend of teaching parents how to let go is Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. This book also teaches that letting our children explore, grow and learn without us there to catch them is an ages old solution to today’s over-coddling kids. Both of these books show us that we don’t have to wrap our kids up in bubble wrap to protect them, we can just love them. They also show there are all kinds of ways to show that love and it doesn’t have to be by coddling them.
Learning From Our Moms
While it is true that we live in a fast-paced world with enormous pressures, kids are still kids. Every generation has their particular problem whether it is the Cold War, the Depression or today’s over-saturation of media. But today there is pressure to do more than simply raise your kids. Today we are expected to “parent” them, and there might be the problem.
When they want our guidance they will ask, as long as they know we are always there if they want us. But in the meantime the hardest thing for today’s parent to learn is how to step back and let our kids do their own growing up. When they make mistakes, they learn from them. As we move closer to yet another summer, let’s hope we can all be thinking of ways we can encourage our kids to go out, be kids and engage the world on their own terms. We provide the loves, kisses and encouragement they need. In the end it is the best thing, the greatest thing, we have to offer them.