The other day I was having a discussion with a friend whose son could not find a job. You know how she knew? Because she was the one doing the looking!
She was the one scouring the ads, waking up her University graduate child, filling his new car (that he got for a graduation present) with fuel and telling him which jobs he should apply for. Her son, in the meantime, did nothing but tell her which jobs were his “dream jobs” and which he couldn’t be bothered with. This case may be extreme but it raises an important issue. As parents, we obviously want our kids to succeed, but how much should we personally be involved in that success?
Here are 8 ways to raise a successful, independent kid instead of a spoiled, entitled brat.
1. 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.
2. Teach them how to handle disappointment As much as we wish life could always be perfect, the occasional failure and disappointment are just a part of life. My job is not to protect my kids from the inevitable disappointment; it is to teach them how to handle it.
3. Stop Hovering Good God, 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?
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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? Um, yeah. No….
7. 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.
8.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.