I sub…a lot, and I love it. I sub middle and high school aged kids. They are fun and crazy and make me laugh. I get to be like their favorite aunt. I come in, love on kids, help them with their work or give them a test, and then I leave. Most kids are excited to see me. They know they get a break from the strictness of their teacher for a day. My goal is to help the kids learn something new, finish their work with excellence & have fun each time I sub. But, here lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among 12-18 year olds, they are utterly dependent on their teachers and parents for everything.
It's OK if they fail
Hey mom and dad, stop. You are crippling your child. It’s your child’s responsibility to remember assignments, homework, and what they need for class. If they don’t remember it, allow them to suffer the consequences. Even if they get a zero. The goal is for them to learn to do it on their own.
I know you don’t want your child to fail, no parent wants that, but I also hope you won’t be following your child to college to help them there as well. What about after college when your child has their own job? Are you going to be following them around as a personal assistant? Your well intentioned help will become your child’s crutch. Your job is to give your child roots when they are young & help them learn to fly on their own as they get older.
Roots & Wings
Obviously, when I think of roots I think of a tree. Trees grow roots to help keep them upright and to sustain them. The roots grow bigger as the tree becomes larger. If there is something wrong with a tree’s root system, or it becomes stunted, it can kill the tree. When our children are babies, we start establishing their root base. We love them and see to their needs when they are young. We help them discover who they are; what their beliefs are; and what they can accomplish at each developmental stage. We love and nurture and encourage and discipline those roots until our little sapling is a full blown tree with the ability to stand on its own. But, if we stunt the growth of our children by doing everything for them, they learn their way is never good enough. They learn that they don’t need to be responsible, because mom & dad can do it for them. Along with a strong root base, our kids need wings.
I love the idea of a momma bird encouraging her fledging to leave the nest. She knows her little baby can’t stay with her forever. It will need to venture into the great big world and build a nest of their own. (and hopefully find a mate have little baby birds of their own, because the momma bird really wants lots of grandbirds.) How does she encourage her baby to grow up? As she feeds her fledging, she will move farther and farther towards the edge of the nest, until eventually the baby leaps out and falls/flies. She also does this so the fledging will associate flying with eating instead of falling. If the baby won’t fly of its own accord, the mother will push them out.* I love this. Momma bird doesn’t expect her baby to jump out of the nest right away. Each time she feeds the fledgling, she is encouraging it to move a little more towards the edge, but at some point she knows if her baby won’t fly on its own she has to do something a little more drastic.
You can be this way with your kids as well. Teach your children the basics of how to take care of things on their own while they are young, and help them to refine those strategies as they get older. It’s not your job make their lunch every day, clean up their rooms, do their laundry, check their Google classroom calendar every night to make sure they are completing their homework. It’s not your job to do any assignment for them, or email the teacher about why they couldn’t complete their work. It’s not even your job to use ‘Find my iPhone’ to figure out where they are when they leave for college. If they have a problem with a teacher or another student, help your child know what questions to ask, but don’t do it for them. When they mess-up, love them and show mercy if it’s needed; guide them through their mess-up, but don’t clean it up for them, no matter how particularly messy it is. (this is easier said than done!) They will be stronger after they do it themselves, and hopefully learned a valuable lesson as well. Our jobs are to love, guide, and empower. You can do it brave mama & daddy bird, and remember you are not walking alone.
Celebrating another day to love kids,