Monday, August 19, 2013

Raising Independent, Confident, Fearless Kids

As expected, this week has kicked off with Facebook and other social media sites being flooded with all of the "first day of school" pictures. I find it fun, comical and even interesting to see the pictures and read the comments from each parent this time of year. Some parents are doing the happy dance, some are crying tears of joy, some are frazzled, others are in disbelief and then you have those that are genuinely sad... feeling lost when their kids go to school because it makes their stay-at-home life seem too empty. Despite the whirlwind of emotions going on, one thing that links us ALL together is the feeling of how quickly time flies when you are a parent. Time that once seemed to stand still suddenly travels at light speed and before we know it we are sending our kids across the stage with a cap and gown. (I know, I have been there.) Being a mother of 4 children; Cierra 21, Baleigh 11, Zane almost 5 and Abrielle almost 4, I still have 3 more opportunities to experience the swiftness of human life during these 13 years of school life. Sometimes it seems as though they were just born, and other times it feels as though it has been forever since I smelled that "baby smell" on their skin... that natural scent which they possess at birth that you become addicted to and never want to go away; although it slowly does, and one day it is replaced with body odor (middle school just wait!) Sorry... I was getting too sappy and did not want to make you cry... quick wit to the rescue.

Seriously though, time does fly and they do grow up REALLY fast and we are responsible for the type of adult they become (to an extent) What I have tried to do with all of mine is force upon them independence, confidence and I teach them to be fearless. I feel that with those three traits you can accomplish ANYTHING in life. So many parents today enable poor behavior, create spoiled brats, make their kids paranoid and do not teach them what they need to know to survive... some of the parents don't even know how to survive themselves, but instead of learning they unintentionally breed dependent individuals that have a hard time making it on their own in the real world. That REALLY bugs me, so behold... my wheels turn. 

I remember the first time I heard the term "helicopter parent", I chuckled because I have met them... some of them are my friends and although I love them wholeheartedly, I do not agree with what they do. I keep my thoughts to myself unless they ask my opinion on how to raise kids, then I simply share my philosophy. I guess when I sit back and think about it, being a single career mom did my kids some good after all. I have not always had time to play with them every second, leaving them to occupy themselves. I did not always have the money to get them everything they wanted or take them to all the places they wanted to go, so they don't expect it and when I am able to do something extra it's a real treat! I do however work hard in order to provide them their needs. They have always lived in a nice, clean home in a good neighborhood,  they wear nice clothes that I bought on sale racks because paying retail was not within the budget and it's stupid to do that anyway, and I almost always read them a bedtime story or sing them a bedtime song unless I am out of town or sick. (at least until they are 8 or so when they say it's weird) My kids have watched me do all of these things over and over again. So... What are the learned behaviors in all of that? Work hard, make needs your priority, having a nice clean home is important, always live within your means, and be sure to make time for bedtime stories and lullaby's. Simple, concise and valuable.

As I was talking to my son today who will be starting kindergarten tomorrow, I told him that I would take him to school on his first day and walk him to class. He says... "Mom, I would like to ride the bus on my first day of school." I said to him... "Are you sure? You do not even know where your classroom is because we had to miss your open house."  and he replied... "It's okay Mom, I will just ask someone where to go."  I was left with a feeling of pride... and thought, YEP, he is definitely my kid. HA-HA Although I could force him to get in my car so I can hold his hand all the way to class, I have to say that I am proud of him and quite confident that he will be fine. Therefore, I am going to grant his independent wish and strap a lanyard to his neck so they can direct him to class tomorrow... his very first day of kindergarten. I am also proud that he found it important to be on the "special bus" with his little sister, because as he so sweetly stated... "I really love her and want to ride with her on her bus."  Now, if I could only help relieve my 11 year old's Middle School anxiety a bit more I would be content!

As you see your kids off to school this year, ask yourself what behaviors they are learning from you. Are you teaching them what they need to know in order to survive in the real world without you? As much as we don't want to admit it... we won't always be there for them so there is no better time to start than NOW. If you are not sure how to survive yourself? Well... there are books, blogs (ahem) and resources that can hold your hand all the way to class.

Now go create awesome kids that will turn into responsible adults. Set the right examples and teach them what's REALLY important in life. Enough is enough with all this modern hooplah! Get out the "Leave It to Beaver" archives and introduce some of that back into our world! 

Have an awesome week!