Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Step Away, Mom!

I have this thing I do.  I try to do everything for my kids.  If I make them do something for themselves, I feel as though I am shirking my responsibility.  I am not sure if it is just me or some sort of societal thing that makes us feel like bad parents if we tell our kids to figure something out or do something on their own.  I feel as though I will be judged a "bad mother" if I don't jump at my child's every beck and call, find every stray sock they are missing and listen to every boring story about where they found each and every rock in their rock collection.

This summer we bought a waterproof camera and Allie wanted to use it to make a video for a video-making class she was taking.  I was packing for vacation and I just didn't need one more thing on my plate.  I wanted to just wait til we got to the beach to sit down, relax and figure the thing it.  Then, it dawned on me:

She's 12!  She can figure it out!
I had a moment of guilt, like I wasn't doing my job.  I should stop everything and read the directions for this camera even if it meant I was packing at midnight.  Then I thought, "this is silly, she's capable.  I don't need to figure this out for her."

I told her to read the directions and figure it out for herself.

Indeed she did figure it all out on her own and became the family expert on that camera which made her feel really good.  We would all ask her questions about using the underwater camera and that BOOSTED her SELF CONFIDENCE.  

It made me wonder about how many other learning opportunities I deprive my girls from by feeling like I have to have all the answers because I am, after all, THE PARENT.

Kids are capable of finding the answers to their questions on the internet.
Kids are capable of finding their stray socks and should be held accountable for their own things.
They are capable of reading the directions to their games and gadgets and figuring them out on their own.  Of course, if they run into an issue, we are there to help out.  But we need to encourage them to do these things on their own.

When our children are small, it's our responsibility to do things for them.  As they get older, we need to encourage them to figure out how to do the things that they want to do.  Then, if you are like me, you need to step away, because my fingers are just itching to help and I have to bite my lip to keep from instructing.

I am realizing more and more that my feeling that I need to "do" for my kids is creating kids who don't always want to "do" for themselves.  We use Math U See for math, the first three exercises are on the new topic, the next three are new topic + review.  Today Allie had a review question about finding the circumference of a circle, she couldn't remember which formula was for area and which for circumference of a circle.  I could have told her.  But instead I told her to find the answer...I don't care how...go on-line, look in a book...find the formula.  She sighed and hemmed and hawed and mumbled under breath about how I am not doing my "job".

For a moment I felt guilt.  Am I doing my job?  Is my job to always rescue her?  Then I decided it was not to always rescue her.  My job is to give her the skills to figure things out for herself.  I won't always be there.  I did teach her how to find the circumference and the area of a circle, apparently my telling her this didn't maybe finding the formula in a book or on-line will help it to stick.

After one failed attempt and much annoying eye-rolling, she figured it out.  I would love to say that she was filled with self-pride, but that would be a stretch of the truth...she was just glad to be done with the problem and able to go sew something on her sewing machine.

What have you required your children to do on their own?  
Do you feel like a bad parent when you tell your kid you are busy and they need to figure something out for themselves?