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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Note to Parents: Put down the bubble wrap

I once asked a colleague of mine what she would have done differently as a parent if she could start over. Her response has never left me.

She said:

I would have let my daughter feel and understand more consequences when she was very young, so when the challenges got bigger, she would know how to make better choices.

She want on to explain that she would "save her" from pain and consequences thinking that was the best way to show love.

Her daughter later went on to suffer big consequences with drug and alcohol abuse. Thankfully, she was able to pull her self back up and now lives a good life running a Montessori school with her mom.

I have taken this advice to heart. Some days I do better than others.

When "the girl" was a toddler, I took her to preschool on a crisp fall day in shorts.  I had stood in the closet with her that morning while she steadfastly insisted that she was wearing shorts.  I reminded her that it had gotten quite chilly overnight and she was going to be really cold on the playground.  She gave me the stink eye and said, "shorts!" So I shrugged my shoulders and took her to preschool... in shorts.

The preschool teacher stopped her little preschool teacher smile when she saw the curly headed girl come in the door. She looked right at me and said, "You know we're going out for recess today? She's going to be cold." Yep, I said. Maybe tomorrow she won't want to wear shorts.  I kissed my little 'Gift from God' goodbye and off to work I went.  Oh, I'm sure I was the talk of the teachers lounge that day.

I have lots of room to improve as a parent. I totally suck at it some days. But I am sickened by how many kids I am seeing in school and activities that are spoiled and entitled. We have to let them make choices and then be accountable to those choices.

Soccer should have a winner and a loser. Why practice harder if you can never win.
If you don't bring your favorite skinny jeans down to be washed, you can wear them dirty or be a fashion don't. I could go on and on with similar situations.

We've put so much bubble wrap on our kids, protecting them from all kinds of crap. They're going to get pretty bumped and bruised when there's no one to pack their lunch and cut off their crusts. (Which reminds me, why am I packing Dude's lunch everyday? - Note to self: Dude now packs his own lunch.)

Or they'll just live in our basements forever.