Parenting Post – Linda Marten MSW

images-1Experts say, “choose your battles or you’ll be fighting all the time with your kids.” And, “You can win the battle, but lose the war.”

But how do you know which battles to choose? What’s really important and what is not? It’s so easy to lose perspective in the day to day rush to feed, clothe, educate, help with homework, take to and from sports or lessons or doctor appointments, bathe, brush teeth, read to, sing to, advise, guide, etc. etc.
In the midst of all this the kids can have a melt down and then you may have one too! It can make your head spin!

Stop. Take a step back and ask yourself, “How important is it?”
“Where am I going with this child?”
“What kind of person do I hope to see by the time they turn 19?”
If your child is quite young still, it’s hard to imagine they will ever be that old.
I know, I felt the same way when my kids were little. Now they are ages 20 and 25.
It helps in all the busy-ness and hard work of raising the next generation, to stop and think about where you’re going with them.

Let’s do a little time travel to help you think about what kind of person you hope they’ll be by age 19………
Think of the first day you met your child, the day of their birth and they are in your arms. Then before you know it, they are a walking, talking, curious toddler, and then came pre-school, and then kindergarten and elementary school and they’re in school all day. Before you know it, they are smelling different and pimples start to pop out on their face, and you say to yourself, “oh no, puberty already? How will I guide them now?” Then they enter middle school and you both feel insecure and edgy about all the changes. Next they enter high school and their need for independence is rising dramatically. Before you know it, you’re at their high school graduation and they are preparing to go to college or start a career next year. In just another year, they will be 19 and starting a whole new phase of life.

What kind of person do you see?
What will they value? What will be important to them?
List what qualities you hope to see. Do you hope they will be responsible, independent, kind and caring, able to learn from their mistakes, a high achiever, hard working, giving, cooperative, able to persist and achieve their goals, strong, able to laugh at themselves and enjoy life, learn from and rise above their failures, accepting of themselves and others, able to give and receive? ……..

These are all fine goals for our children. But how will we get there?

It all starts NOW. For example, if I want my child to be responsible and independent by age 19, what can they do for themselves now? At age 4, they can start to learn to make their own bed, wash their own body, put away their toys, etc.
At age 14, they can make their own lunch, wash the car, mow the lawn, take out the garbage, etc. Get the idea? If we do too much for our children, how will they learn to take care of themselves by the time they are 19. Out of good intention and caring, we (especially mothers) tend to do too much for our kids as they get older and rob them of the chance to learn and to experience their own strength and resiliency.

What small step can you take today toward helping your child become the person you hope to see by age 19?

For more on this read: How Much Is Enough? By Jean Illsley Clarke, PhD.
Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine, PhD.

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