Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Want to Help Them but....

Our adoption agency posted the question, Is being an older parent easier? I would say DEFINITELY.  As an "older" parent, I finally, finally, finally understand that almost every time I leap in to HELP my children, I am doing them a disservice. I really love to help. I will tie my kiddos shoes until they are twelve, if they would let me. I do not want my kids to ever feel discomfort, distress or hardship.I want to solve all their problems, help with their homework and make their lunches. Now, as an older parent, I know that every time I rush to their side to help them, I am telling my children that I don't think they can do it without me. I am NOT helping. I am merely making myself feel important and needed. That is not good parenting, in my mind. So I changed the way I do things.
When we first adopted the two little guys, for instance, I gently put on their coats, zipped them, carried them to the van,lifted them into the van, placed them in their carseats, and buckled them in place. The experienced mother in me, however, only allowed this total dependence for a week or so, in the name of bonding. Or maybe I'm just not that patient anymore, and I couldn't stand to spend 15 minutes getting everyone into the van. By week two, I would hold their hands and walk them to the car, wait while they climbed into the vehicle and sat in their seats, and then I gently buckled them. By week three, I was teaching them how to buckle themselves into the seat. Whenever they buckled themselves in, they received high-fives from all the passengers! Now,two months after the adoptions, I say, "Come on!! Let's go!" and I fully expect all the children to get their own shoes on, and their own butts in their seats (buckled) in 30 seconds flat.
I am proud when the director of the swimming pool thinks my 13 year old son is 16. "Not because of how he looks, but he just seems so mature and independent." Yesterday, I dropped our 16 year old son off at the grocery store (with a list) while I took the littles to swimming lessons. I picked him up 45 minutes later, and our grocery shopping is done! Of course, he made a few mistakes, bought the wrong brands sometimes, and didn't use coupons. Next time, he will do it better. I will not be the parent who sends her children off to college not knowing how to do their own laundry!! I like to do laundry, usually, but I wash linens at our rental cottage each week. Everyone over 9 years old does their own laundry. It's not sorted, but who cares anyway. Really. Everyone over the age of 10 knows how to cook on the grill and use a cordless drill. I hold my breathe every time I want to HELP, and I let them struggle for a count of 60. Tears of frustration bring smiles of joy when the task is mastered. Repeat after me...My helping tells them I don't think they can do the task. I am taking anyway from them every time I leap in to solve their problems.