Written by: Michelle Molle-Krowiak, LCSW, Ed.S.
As we wrap up another school year, I bask in glory of summer with relaxation and fun. As a mother of four, we just celebrated my oldest son’s major milestone of 8th grade graduation. High school, here we come!
As the madness of the spring is starting to quiet down, I find I have been sitting with a series of questions lately. As parents, our goal is to teach our children skills so they can navigate into adulthood with confidence. The question I ask myself often is how, in this journey of childhood to adulthood, am I going to find balance of teaching my children responsibility and equip them as they mature?
With the pressures of school and sports, I tend to ask very little of responsibilities on the home-front. I want to nurture and take care of my kids but am I, at the same time, becoming a hinderance for my children?
I know I am not the only mom who is mindful of trying to find the balance of giving my children a childhood, but also building up their skills, their resources, their abilities as they approach into adulthood. These are not easy questions to answer and this balance is not easy to find either.
Recently, I was recommended this book by a great local special education teacher, “How to Raise An Adult” by Julie Lythcott- Haims. The author challenges parents to empower children for adulthood. Working at college admissions, she began to see the detrimental effect of helicopter parenting leaving college age students still needing their parents to navigate the world. The “we” unit of a child and parent had not separated, and she found that college-aged adults did not know how to handle the multiple demands and responsibilities of living in a dorm, going to class, managing time, while also building new relationships with professors and peers.
When our children are born, they need the “we” to survive. As we know, babies are completely dependent on us and we anticipate and translate their sounds and facial expressions to needs, and we satisfy them. Over time, and perhaps as much as we don’t want our kids to separate from us too much, it is our job to give our children permission to explore and separate. Our goal is to help our children develop language to communicate their needs, their feelings so that we don’t have to guess.
Isn’t it our job to slowly shift and increase their independence and competence through different developmental stages?
So with a high school aged young man in my house, I have to think of my part...
I also know you can’t re-vamp your entire system at once. In my family, we will be taking baby steps to allow my kids to better more confident and become more self -sufficient. We are revamping our chores and opening checking accounts with debit cards. The “mommy bank” will become a tougher place to get “free money!”
Happy Summer and I wish you balance in coaching your children of basking in the joy of childhood yet taking this time to teach them skills needed for adulthood!
Image from: Families for Life
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles