Adult Child

We’ve done it – we’ve managed to raise one child to become an adult. It’s a strange feeling to think that our daughter is no longer legally a child and is responsible for herself – well sort of! My daughter would like all the freedom that comes with being an adult but isn’t so keen on the responsibilities.

It only seems like yesterday she was a newborn baby swaddled and nestled in my arms. It’s hard to comprehend that she is now an adult. I still want to wrap her up and keep her by my side, but while that isn’t possible, I am at least proud of the woman she is becoming.

It really doesn’t matter how old your child is, you will always want to protect and care for them. My daughter is currently on ‘schoolies’ (an end of school tradition where kids go on holidays to celebrate graduating). This is the first time she has holidayed without a chaperone and I must admit I’ve had sleepless nights wondering if she is ok. It’s not that I think she will do anything stupid but where you get a group of teens conglomerating under the influence of alcohol and god knows what else, there is a propensity for trouble. I just don’t want her to get caught up in any violence or drink spiking etc. I know that as our kids grow up I have to learn to give them freedom, but until she is back home safely I think that I will feel uneasy.

It’s hard to believe I have an eighteen year old daughter as I still only feel eighteen myself. I look forward to the progression in our mother/daughter relationship from me being the disciplinarian to being more of a friend. In fact, since she has finished school I’ve noticed a shift in our connection, as she is now happy to hang out with me for a coffee and she has begun to confide in me more.

Parenthood is a journey through your kid’s different phases and now we embark on our next phase.

So today we celebrate our daughter’s milestone birthday in her absence and can relax in the knowledge that we’ve succeeded in getting our first born to adulthood. One down – three to go!

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PERFECTIONISTS  

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I recently had an interesting discussion with a mum who has been attending a course addressing anxiety in children. The lecturer made the point that people who are perfectionists often suffer anxiety if things are not done to the standard they desire. This requirement for perfection is then forced upon their children, also making them anxious if things aren’t done right.

She went on the say that parents who have a high level of expectation on their children, often intervene and actually take over the task their child should do (eg. homework, making bed, packing bag etc) to ensure it is done to their standard. This creates a vicious cycle because the child doesn’t learn to do the tasks for themselves and if the parent forgets to do something for the child it leaves the child feeling anxious and upset.

The advice the lecturer gave to the parents attending her course, was to let their children be more independent and to learn the consequences of not having things done perfectly. This will help build more resilient kids and will teach them a level of responsibility for their actions. A teacher is more interested in seeing a child’s attempt at homework, rather than the polished version that a parent has assisted (ie. done) for their child. If a child forgets to pack their library books, then they need to understand they can’t borrow new ones, until they remember to return the ones they already have.

I felt vindicated that a professional has the same opinion as I do on the subject of letting your children do things for themselves. I wrote a post last year ‘The fine line between assisting and doing’ on the subject of giving your children guidance but leaving them to do their homework themselves.

Children need parents to set examples for them, teach them life skills and give them a chance to take responsibility for their actions so that they grow into well-adjusted adults. So if you are a parent who is a perfectionist, take a deep breath and try to live with a little imperfection in your life so that you don’t create anxiety in your children. Kids need to live and learn – so let them!

“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake – you can’t learn anything from being perfect.” – Adam Osborne

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitialphotos.net)

YOU’RE SO STRICT

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A parents struggle from the moment they have their child is between wanting to ensure their child loves (and even likes) them and enforcing rules that will set the basis for their child to have values and morals that will steer them through life. We have to balance giving them freedom whilst still ensuring their safety. There are no set rules about when a child has the maturity and intelligence to take on additional responsibilities, we just have to use our gut feel as to what is right for our child at that time. Sometimes that means that your kids won’t like you, but hopefully they will respect that you make decisions in their best interests. At the end of the day, we aren’t here to be their friends; we are their parents and have to take that responsibility seriously.

Kids will always play the “You’re so strict! My friends’ mums let them do x,y,z” card and more often than not it isn’t actually the case. Rather, the kids are all bullying their parents into thinking that they are the only ones not allowing their kids freedom. Often if you just talk with the other parents, you will find out that they share a common concern to you.

Years ago I saw a poem called ‘I Loved You Enough’ and it struck a chord with me. I would like to share it with all those parents who have kids who think they are too strict:

 

I LOVED YOU ENOUGH
By Erma Bombeck

 

I Loved You Enough….to ask where you were going,

with whom, and what time you would be home.

 

I Loved You Enough….to insist that you save

your money and buy a bike for yourself even though we

could afford to buy one for you.

 

I Loved You Enough…. to be silent and let

you discover that your new best friend was a creep.

 

I Loved You Enough….to make you take a Milky Way

back to thedrugstore (with a bite out of it)

and tell the clerk,”I stole this yesterday and

want to pay for it.”

 

I Loved You Enough….to stand over you for

two hours while you cleaned your room,

a job that would have  taken 15 minutes.

 

I Loved You Enough….to let you see anger, disappointment

and tears in my eyes.

Children must learn that their parents aren’t perfect.

 

I Loved You Enough….to let you assume the

responsibility for your actions even when the penalties

were so harsh they almost broke my heart.

But most of all,

 

I Loved You Enough….

to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.

Those were the most difficult battles of all.

I’m glad I won them, because in the end,

you won, too.

 

When our kids are adults and are capable of looking after themselves, maybe then I can be their friend, but for now I’m just a Mother who loves her kids and regardless of whether they like it or not, I love them enough to be stricter than they want me to be and I hope that in the future they will thank me for caring, keeping them safe and raising them to be good people.

 

(Photo courtesy of photostock, freedigitalphotos.net)

CHILD LABOUR

All too often we wrap our kids up in cotton wool and do too much for them. The way to make your children responsible is to give them responsibility. As such, I think it character building for a child to help around the house. It’s not like I have my kids working in a sweatshop producing black market garments, but my kids all have chores.

I used to have a rotating schedule where one would pack the dishwasher this day, unpack it another day, set the table another and sweep the floor another. This was so confusing to keep track of whose day it was for each chore. One of my kids suggested that it would work better to have a chore day where they are responsible for all the chores for that whole day, but then have a few days off chores. We have adopted this system, which is great because now we all know who is responsible each day. I also added a clause that stipulated if the person on chores didn’t do all their chores on their day, then they would become responsible for the next day’s chores as well.

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The chores my kids do aren’t that taxing. They unpack and pack the dishwasher (although each individual is responsible for putting their own plate in the dishwasher after use); they set the table and wipe it down after meals; they keep the bathroom tidy; replace bin liners and pick up dog poo. They are each expected to keep their rooms tidy and hang up towels after use, which you would think is easier than the other chores, but seems for them to be the hardest thing to enforce!

They get 20 cents per chore, which means at the end of the week they should have a few dollars pocket money if they have done everything set for them.

Discussing chores with friends, I’m always shocked to find out that most people I know do everything for their kids. Considering children make 90% of the mess in the house, shouldn’t they contribute with at least 10% of the cleaning? 

I think when everything is done on your behalf you learn to expect that and have no appreciation for the effort outlaid to do the chores.

For example, on average I will do 10-12 loads of washing a week. My kids have no gratitude for the hours I spend collecting dirty clothes, sorting, washing, hanging out washing, bringing in washing, folding and putting clean clothes back in their wardrobes. The only time that I’m aware they know that I do this for them, is when they can’t find something they want to wear. I then have to draw upon a photographic memory to recall if I washed that item and where it is currently residing (more often than not, in a wash basket awaiting folding.)

I recently suggested that one of my daughters might like to earn $10 pocket money to fold up and put away the week’s washing. She was really keen, until she had folded about 6 items. She then declared it wasn’t worth it and left the washing to be folded by me. She didn’t persevere with the chore, but I hope it gave her an insight into what is involved in making sure she has clean clothes to wear.

There are so many years we do absolutely everything for our kids from wiping their bums to blowing their noses, so just as we relinquish these tasks to them, we should also include other jobs that assist the family as a whole.

Don’t underestimate the workforce you have bred!