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.
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.