We have our children at home for around 17 years and in that time we know we need to prepare them for a life of excitement and endeavor. However, teaching them independence is a bittersweet activity. We want them to fly solo, but in doing so they are telling us they don't need us. So we often hang on longer than we need to just to stay connected and in many cases to feel needed.
We can't protect them forever. We also have to prepare them for failure, unfair treatment and denial of things they want or think they need.
What we can do to prepare our kids for life:
- Teach them not only how to perform tasks, but how to perform them safely.
- Teach them our values and how and why they form our character.
- Coach them how to make wise decisions and choices.
- Teach them right from wrong.
- Teach them how to take responsibility for their own actions.
- Praise them for successes and create consequences for non-compliance.
- Stand close by and dust them off when plans do not turn out as expected.
- Focus on their efforts rather than just the results.
- Teach them principles so that even though a particular scenario may not be exactly the same as one we have taught, they will still be able to work out what to do, particularly if we are not there for advice.
- Be great role models, be fair, consistent and equal with our love and attention to each child.
What we should NOT do:
- Stand up for our child when the child is actually in the wrong.
- Protect our child from failure.
- Protect our child from all possible hurt.
- Give our child everything they want so they are never disappointed or want for anything.
- Have unreasonable expectations (e.g. my child is an A+ student), if they are actually incapable of producing a high grade.
- Say, "I told you so!"
None of the six points above have any connection with reality.
Written by Sally Burgess