"Coddled Kids Crumble" was the title of the article that caught my eye a few days ago on Facebook. Being the mom of ten, coddling kids has never been an issue with me. Quite the opposite, in fact. Consequently, I confess I have had a touch of mom guilt here and there over the years. Maybe I was requiring too much of them?
But no more. As the title implies, coddling kids is the equivalent of crippling them, and after ten years of this faulty philosophy which has robbed a whole generation of problem solving skills, college kids are limping to their school counselors over the most trivial issues. Two students even called 911 when they spotted a mouse in their dorm room.
There have been many times when I wanted to do everything for my kids--their dad is much better than I am at instilling independence. It is easier, I rationalize, and things get done faster. But as this piece so eloquently explains, helicopter parenting and constant hand holding creates kids who lack coping skills.
Yesterday, for instance, eight year old Silas rode with me for the afternoon carpool. We took along a stack of movies and books that had to be returned. "Silas," I said, "take this stack of books over there and drop them in the book drop."
The stack went up to his chin. (It was adorable.) He balanced it all the way up the side walk, then stopped in front of the book drop. I could tell he was trying to figure out how to get the pile into the book drop. After a few seconds, he put the pile down on the ground (ie, he solved the first problem), then opened the chute with one hand and stretched out his other hand to pick up the first book from the top of the pile. For some reason, he felt he had to hold the chute open while he was reaching for the book. It was a stretch, literally, but he did got the first book in, then another, and another.
The whole process took about five minutes, and I confess I was a little anxious to get going. I still had to stop at the drug store, after all, and Cory would be done with football practice soon.
But it was what he did after the deed was done that was so rewarding to watch. As he turned and walked away from the book drop, he hopped up onto the brick wall, trotted on tip toe along the concrete path, and leaped off. The look on his face said it all: I did it.
"I am proud of you, Silas, for the way you solved that problem," I told him later.
"It wasn't sure how to do it at first but I figured it out," he beamed.
Just as I suspected.
When my older kids were growing up, I did not realize the importance of letting them do every day errands like this. Because I always had a baby or toddler (or both) in the car seat, they helped me out of necessity-- it was just easier to let them do it.
But, the article said, after decade of helicopter parenting, we have a helpless generation on our hands, and they are imploding at the slightest resistance.
"I walked four miles to school across the Arkansas prairie," Mom Dot often tells my kids. And while I cannot imagine my children walking four miles to school one way, I think that generation had something that today's generation is missing. Toughness, tenacity, the ability to rise to the challenge.
I am now down to six kids at home, with my youngest soon to be four. With no baby to constantly tend to, a new parenting season is upon me. I am going to do my best not to coddle the kids on the other end of my ten, but to grant them the gift that every child deserves--independence.
They're gonna' need that later.