The other day I was having a discussion with a friend whose kid could not find a job. You know how she knew? Because she was the one doing the looking! Yes, I know how that sounds. She was the one scouring the ads, she was the one waking up her college graduate child, she was the one filling his new car (that he got for a graduation present) with gas and she was the one telling him which jobs he should apply for. What did she get in return? What was her son’s contribution? He got engaged long enough to tell her which were his “dream jobs” and which he couldn’t be bothered with.
He was frustrated and so was his mother, who was openly lamenting the “success” many people around him had been having (she actually mentioned a few reality stars by name). Oh boy, where do I start?
This really isn’t rocket science but it does require parents do some things many seem loathe to do these days; some things that didn’t seem that difficult for past generations but for some reason, many parents nowadays just don’t have the stomach for. Let your kid fail. Actually that’s just one of the things we should do if we don’t want to end up with a spoiled, entitled brat on our hands. Here are the rest.
1. Stop hovering!
Let them breathe! Of course I’m speaking figuratively and by breathe I mean let them out of your sight every now and again. Let them make a few decisions on their own; how will they handle the big ones if they can’t practice on the little ones?
2. Be a safety net, not a safety harness
You do know the difference, right? If you are a safety harness type of parent, you are holding your kids in place, never letting them make a mistake. A safety net parent offers a degree of flexibility; you let them make mistakes but are there to catch them when they fall.
3. Make sure they know they are not the center of the universe
When you first bring that adorable little baby home from the hospital, it’s hard to imagine that something so small could be so controlling. But it’s true and they’ll run your house and your life with a balled up baby fist if you let them.
4. A trophy for everyone? No.
My daughter tried out for the high school volleyball team and was one of those who made the cut. But there were some parents who thought they ALL should have made the team. That’s not how it works in the real world . Besides, what incentive is there for kids to work hard if everyone gets a trophy?
5. Stop giving them everything!
When I was 18-years-old, I thought my folks would buy me a car, like all my friends’ parents did for them. Yeah, well that didn’t happen. So I worked a minimum wage job for years earning the down payment on what could only be called a glorified piece of crap. But it was my glorified piece of crap and I treated it like gold because I earned it. Let your kids work for stuff; I promise it won’t kill them.
6. Success is not linear
The thing that made me want to scream about my friend’s kid was that she assumed she’d waltz out of college and into her dream job. The path to success is not a straight line. We need to teach them they’ll kiss a few frogs before hitting on the one.
7. Teach them how to handle disappointment
I wish I had a dollar for every college professor or administrator who said they had to talk a kid down after things didn’t go their way. Or who texted their parents before making a decision. My job is not to protect my kids from the inevitable disappointment; it is to teach them how to handle it.
8. Let them fail!
Yeah, I said it. You know why? Because failure is a powerful teaching tool. It’s how we figure out what doesn’t work and hone in on what does. It’s not a bad thing; it’s simply part of the process.
Nice to meet you! You can find out more about me on my blog, Good Enough Mother.