Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teach or Protect

I was reading Hilary's blog entitled Help a Brother Out (click to go to it) and it occurred to me that of the parents she had mentioned, one had taught their child and the other had protected their child.

Protecting your child:  As parents that is one of our mandates is to protect our children.  But there are times and ages when protecting them is not healthy and doesn't prepare them for the future or better equip them for life.  As a matter of fact protecting them from consequences of their actions is often enabling them to continue with bad habits or poor choices.  When we protect them, not only allows them to continue without consequences, but gives them the message that it is acceptable or even preferable to avoid them or find others to take responsibility for their actions.  What follows is blame.  "It's my parents fault, It's my spouses fault, it's anybodys fault except mine."

In my line of work I see lots of parents who enable their children and protect them from things that they think their children do not deserve or cannot handle.  It is of key importance to note that when we protect our children (sometimes even if that is the right choice) they will often see it or feel it as an admission by the parent that they are incapable of learning the lesson, accepting the consequences or that they are not good enough.  After all if the parent needs to step in to protect or excuse them then they must not be good enough to get it.  That can lead to a feeling of entitlement or "I shouldn't have to be held responsible or accountable for my actions".  Conversely when we let them reap as they have sown we show trust that they are capable of learning, have adequate maturity to learn the hard lessons and that they are growing up. 


The other option as a parent is to teach them with tools that they can use and adapt to future experiences that prepares them for the rest of their life.  This reminds me of the quote by Joseph Smith "Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves." As parents we need to teach them lasting principles that will have application throughout their lives rather than limited application principles that weaken them and ill-prepare them for the future.  Naturally the timing of "letting them govern themselves" is important as well.

So the difficulty for the parent then is determining what is the best solution to the current situation. Teaching lasting principles, quite frankly, is usually more difficult.  As a small example for little children, teaching them to pick up their own toys rather than just do it ourselves can be a difficult choice.

As parents we need to look to the day when we are out of business as a parent and train/prepare our children to parent themselves with that goal in mind.  I realize that making that statement as a man sounds like I can hardly wait to have the children out of the home.  Not the case.  But because of the current ages of my children I do find it comforting and joyful to see some of the lessons I have tried to teach come to fruition in their lives as they carry on without my daily ministrations or even advice.  I don't stop being their parent but my role changes drastically from days gone by. 

As a near empty nest parent myself, it can begin to feel lonely but fulfilling as I look back on my "body of work" as a parent and especially when some fruit of that work starts to appear.  

1 comment:

  1. I like reading these things about being a parent especially since I hope to be one before too long :) don't be lonely dad!! We'll always be your kids and we'll always need you :) especially as we move into these phases of life that you have already experienced but which are so new and possibly foreign to us. I know i still want your help (and mom's too!) even if it's in a different way than when i was a little girl :) Love you dad!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...