Sunday, December 21, 2014

Giving Your Child Wings and A Great Life

Birds have a great system for teaching their offspring how to fly: they push them onto the ledge and then out of the nest.  While it is inevitable that some do not make it to adulthood for various reasons, i.e. predators, disease, or premature flight, most young chicks do learn how to fly with this method to become parents themselves someday.  Humans can learn a lot from birds' parenting style.
After observing some parenting methods, I have noticed that many parents hold their children back from making it to the nest's ledge, often impeding them from making any headway towards independence.  What these parents don't understand is children's habits slowly turn into adolescent's habits, and eventually adult's habits.  It is healthy as a parent to slowly push their children onto the ledge of the nest in preparation for their eventual flight out of the nest.  The alternative is a 40 year old virgin living in their parents' basement, or even worse, the 40 year old child with their hodgepodge family living in their parents' basement.  Don't laugh, I have known several people who still live under their parents' or significant-other's parents' roof until their mid 40's.
Here's an eye opener, an underdeveloped child is less likely to succeed in life.  They are less likely to make a sufficient income to live on their own, less likely to make necessary social connections needed for interpersonal relationship health, and less likely to learn life-skills, i.e. budgeting, job interviews, driving, shopping, meal preparation, etc.  If your children lack the ability to succeed in life, then they are more apt to fail once their primary caretaker, you, are unable to take care of them.
Another possible outcome of holding children back is an absolute rebellion during adolescence.  In this case, the child takes everything for granted, simply because life is too easy and everything has been handed to them/done for them.  Therefore, they acquire an unhealthy sense of self-entitlement that real life can't satiate.  In other words, this child has become a spoiled teenager with an attitude!  These children often become familiar with the law around the age of 16, possibly younger, become sexually promiscuous, and develop an "I don't care/you owe me" attitude.  At this age, the child is hard to deal with and will need intervention which can be quite emotional to all parties involved.
Knowing how detrimental holding children back can be, it is now time to analyze your parenting style and if it needs to be modified.  Answer the following questions:

Do you do your child's homework if it is too hard for them?
Do you tie your child's (age 5 and older) shoes for them?
Do you dress your child (age 4 and older), zipping and buttoning clothing for them?
Do you give your child money when they ask for it?
Do you sell or "get rid of" their pets they promised to take care of only to get another one shortly after?
Do you cook separate meals for your child/children so they will at least eat?
Do you lead your child (age 4 and older) to go play with other children?
Does your child (age 5 and older) still wet the bed without any medical reasoning?
Does your child refuse to try new things?
Does your child need you to help them with their daily hygiene routine?
Does your child need you to micromanage their routine?

This list might get some parents' feathers ruffled, and it should!  If you said "Yes" to more than two of these questions, you are what's been dubbed by psychologists as a helicopter parent and are impeding proper growth and development of your child.  If you said "Yes, but.." to more than one of these questions, then you are fearful of letting your child approach the ledge of the nest and you need help with the process of letting go.
It is very important to self-actualize where the helicopter behavior is coming from and then start the process of pushing your child slowly to the ledge.  You don't have to push them out of the nest until both of you are ready, but pushing them to the ledge helps them learn the life skills they will need as an adult.  It is your job to raise your child/children to become responsible, independent, self-sufficient, respectful, and capable members of society.  What you don't want is to see your child struggle as an adult because you didn't allow them to struggle as a child.  The behaviors you see now are the behaviors they will have as an adult if you continue to enable them.  Your goal is simple; continually push your child/children onto the ledge of the nest and give them wings when they are ready to fly.


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