Raising Kids to Be Adults, Not Big Kids

Parenting is a tough gig. I speak as a Mom, of course. A Mom of 5 kids.

When most people hear I have 5 kids — people who have fewer than 5 kids, never people who have 5 or more — they usually make an interesting comment, like, “Wow, you must have your hands full.” Or they assume that I homeschool.

Both comments require me to access all the self-control I possess to not retort back with the first sarcastic comment that comes to mind. I have a blackbelt in sarcasm.

It must be that the only reason why I would have so many kids is because I am a member of a religious society that disallows birth control and insists that I homeschool. Wrong and wrong.

I have 5 kids because I had sex. 5 times. Just kidding.

My husband and I have 5 kids because, before we got married, he said he wanted to have 2 kids and I wanted to have 3. Apparently, we’re not good at sharing. A second bad joke. I’m good at those too.

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It doesn’t matter how many children you have, most Moms are disgustingly under-appreciated and greatly over-worked. My kids seem to think I knew how tough and thankless this mothering gig was before I got pregnant.

I. Did. Not. Know!!

I knew the newborn phase was going to be physically exhausting, but I didn’t know how exhausting it truly was until I lived through it. More than once.

I knew the terrible twos — or threes in the case of my children — were going to be challenging, but I had no idea how challenging they would be until I was in the worst of it. Over and over and over again.

I assumed that things would get easier. At some point. Boy, was I wrong. With two teenagers in the house, I do not joke when I say that the toddler years were easier than the teenage years have been so far. I may, however, have some long term memory loss caused by lack of sleep.

What gets my proverbial goat is that my kids believe that I am here to serve them. Day and night, 365 days a year. No, I was here first. I had a life long before you came along. You took away my life as I knew it. And that was okay for 5, 6, 7 years. But by the time you’re 12 years old, you should be able to do nearly everything on your own.

My job as a Mom is to raise my kids to be independent, confident adults. If I do all the work for them, I am not encouraging independence!

Independence is created when children are given responsibility and accept it. When kids are given choices. And when kids have to live with the consequences of the choices they make.

And that is what makes parenting hard.

It would be much easier for me to do everything for them. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I am pretty close to it, at least when it comes to cleaning the house and folding laundry. We won’t talk about my money management or supper making skills. Those are areas where I need to continue to grooooow. Big time.

What if I taught my children how to clean the house and handed the responsibility over to them. Not only will they — hopefully — take more pride in the house we all live in, but this would also encourage them to take responsibility for the times they do make messes. Everyone makes messes. When I make a mess in the kitchen, I clean it up as soon as I can.

Not because I have to. But because I like having a fairly clean house. It’s still got dust and fingerprints and smudges and hair everywhere, but it’s not too bad, considering that seven people and two dogs live here.

I tell my kids every day, “I honestly don’t care if you make a mess. Go ahead and make a mess! Just make sure you clean it up!!” They still don’t get it.

When parents take their job of raising their kids into adults seriously, everyone benefits. It’s disturbing to watch the next generation expect Mom and Dad to do everything for them. They have very little resilience. When something gets hard, they can’t cope. Either they SnapChat it or they go crying to their parents.

You could at least Google your way out of these things, people! I’m sure they did that ten years ago.

Raise your children to be adults. Don’t raise your children to be big kids. Give them small responsibilities as soon as you can and gradually increase those responsibilities.

Not because you’re a slave driver.

But because your job is to help your child be a responsible adult fifteen or twenty years from now.

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