A Parent’s Job

Posted: January 30, 2012 in Family
Tags: , , , ,

I look around at what I see in my kids’ kindergarten and day care and am shocked.  I see 5 year olds who don’t know how to say goodbye to their parents.  I see parents carrying their children’s backpacks – backpacks which have, for the most part, a lunch box, a bottle of water, a change of clothes and, maybe some drawings the kids made.  I talk to the parents who tell me that they pick out the clothes that their children wear – this includes at the kindergarten which has a dress code.

I was taught that our job as parents is to raise our children to be able to take their place in the world.  To have responsibility and accountability.  To be able to bear the burdens of a life which isn’t always easy.  It’s not enough to make sure that they know how to read, write and cypher.  It’s not enough to make sure that they eat right (which many parents I see don’t because their children think – like the US Congress – that pizza is a vegetable.)  We have to let our children make decisions.  We must let them make mistakes.  We have the obligation to teach them what they know.

The shopping list

The shopping list

My son’s kindergarten teacher gave them a homework assignment to make a model ofNoah’s Ark.  My wife sat with him and worked with him and helped him to make it.  She gave the outline of the design and, for the most part, he put it together.  When we brought it in to the kindergarten it was relatively obvious that we might have been the only family where the child actually did the work.  Doing our children’s homework for them is doing them a disservice.  They – and we – learn by doing, not by watching.  When we go to the supermarket, my son helps me pick out vegetables.  Today, my wife wrote out a shopping list with 5 items on it for him to buy.  When I cook, he helps me get what I need, he helps me mix the ingredients, he puts the cookie dough on the baking tray.

Teach your children to do things by themselves.  Make them feel that they don’t need us for every decision that they make.  Get them ready to take their place in the world.  And always remember, our job is not to keep our children from falling down.  Our job is to help them get back on their feet when they do fall down.

  1. I thought out job was to laugh when they fall down?

  2. I thought our job was to laugh when they fall down?

  3. Mark says:

    Excellent post!

  4. I always say, I’ll know I’ve done my job as a parent if when my son is 37 years old, he’s not living in my basement– 😉 GREAT post!!

  5. Galit Breen says:

    I love this, so much! I have a friend who always says that our goal is to parent ourselves out of a job. Amen!

  6. LeahGG says:

    You’re so right. It’s a hard balance, though, between pushing your child to gradually accept more responsibility and making sure your child isn’t in over their heads.

    My parents were really good about it for the most part. I was cooking when I was 7 or so (eggs, things in the microwave). By the time I was 10 or 11, I could prepare Shabbat dinner (chicken and rice, not anything complicated) by myself. I have a great attitude about cooking – I think anything that can be made in one pot or pan is easy and I have no fear of trying to make new things.

    I remember vacuuming at age 8 or 9, but I didn’t have real chores/responsibilities in terms of housework. I wish I’d been better trained to handle housework.

    With my kids, I try to help them see their place in the constellation. Sometimes I let them choose what’s for dinner. Sometimes they help me shop. They always help set the table. My daughter’s dexterity isn’t good enough to let her cut a salad yet, but we try again every few months to see if she’s ready.

  7. Also, a parent’s job is to define and consistently enforce limits and boundaries… Otherwise, you, the parent, are going to be taken advantage of, when the child makes their own “limits” and “boundaries” (going to bed too late, eating and doing whatever, whenever/”I’ll do it when I want”, hanging out with whomever, etc – a total ballagan).

    Children look to us for guidance for a feeling of safety/Home – otherwise, Home is like any other place and, therefore, nothng special. Don’t be surprised, then, when your child, under such conditions, goes and makes their own definition of Home, with another set of values than what you had aspired for your child…

  8. Susann Codish says:

    Well said. It is, however, incredibly tough to watch your kid fall, especially if all the other kids have parents who’re carrying them. What I find even more disturbing than parents doing their kids’ homework and that type of smothering is the fear of setting boundaries. The notion that the world is a scary place for kids unless it has rules doesn’t seem to occur to many young moms and dads who see boundaries as somehow stifling rather than liberating.

    • brassnet says:

      Part of setting boundaries and rules is making sure your kids know what the consequences of their actions are. While no one wants to see their child fall, we must bear in mind that the little falls at the start of the road are more likely to help prevent the big ones down the road.

  9. Thank you for posting this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment.
    I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Twitter.
    Thanks again for a great article!

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