I've been trying to be less overbearing as a parent (are such things possible?) by letting the kids be more independent, even when the situation may call for some assistance. I'd like to clarify that it irks them to no end when I intervene in something that they want to do by themselves, and I have to really take step back and allow them to work independently, but I am the quintessential helicopter parent, at the ready to swoop in whenever they call for my help. Consequently, when the going gets tough, sometimes they throw in the towel too easily and call for me to jump in, before I think they've really given it a good try.
It's a fine balancing act, and you don't want them to feel discouraged and of course to ever compromise their health and safety, but the reality is, kids need to stumble now and then because they learn a great deal from it, and we're not doing them any favors by helping them avoid it.
Case in point, XC skiing. We were heading up this massive hill and I asked N if he wanted to do it. He said yes, so went for it. It wasn't easy for him, and I was right behind him so I could see firsthand the challenge of it all. He was stumbling and slipping as his friends, the older kids, were off and running way up ahead. At some point, you forget about everyone around you and focus on the job at hand. He was having a rough go of it, but doing it.
K must have thought I was the biggest asshole because she came down the hill and offered to tow him up, but I knew he wanted to do it, and he politely declined her assistance. I think it surprise and maybe even impressed her a little. I can't say for sure, but I know one thing, I sure felt like a dick by not stepping in and helping. But again, I felt like it was a good experience for him.
And he did it, and felt the jubilation of doing it all by his lonesome. He works so hard to keep up, it really is a challenge, but he grows from the experience.
It also happened yesterday with A. We went to homeschool art and afterwards the kids wanted to play in the snow. There is a jungle gym with a swing, which somebody placed too high up to get on with any ease. A was trying to get on, and after a first failed attempt, called out for me to help her. I told her to keep trying, and I could see she was only giving a half-hearted effort, thinking that eventually I would just come and lift her up, but I stood my ground, and even told her that I think it best that she try.
Well, that sure pissed her off, and she took off in a huff. I blew it by finally offering to help, but by that time she wasn't buying it and told me as much as she brooded in the snow. She may have been pondering her dilemma because she did eventually come back and figured out how to get on the swing, all by herself. I had literally nothing to do with it, well maybe a little by default.
The point is, it wasn't life threatening in any way, it would have been easier and simpler for me to just do things for them, but they stuck in there and figured it out for themselves. Those kinds of experiences will speak volumes to them throughout their lives.
Until the next time, thanks for reading.