“MOM! MMMom! Mommmmm! Let me do it myself! Don’t do my work for me! I can do it!”
These statements seem a cause for celebration. Dr. Maria Montessori encourages independence and interdependence for all ages. Her writings talk about helping children help themselves. At the surface this can seem a no-brainer. But it is hard! The effort involved in letting go is oftentimes greater than the energy expended in doing it for them.
Let Me Do It Myself!
The opening statements could be from a toddler mastering snowpants. Or they could be from a preschooler who has figured out how to write his/her name. A 5-8 year old might exclaim the same lines when deciphering a page in a storybook. My own children are beyond those ages; they’re tweens and teens. Yet, I heard those same lines recently.
Mom Does It Herself
Technology needed updates, apps needed downloading, and documents needed to re-sent in a different format. Even though I rehearsed the learning opportunities that I could offer my kids, I blew it. I stealthily accessed their technology and simply got ‘er done when no one was looking. Except, my actions were discovered. And those kids exclaimed, “MOM!……”
And I cried. I wish I could say they were all happy tears. But I was sad. Sad for what used to be. Sad for feeling unwanted and under-appreciated. I’ve spent nearly two decades praying for these kids to grow into independent young adults. And they repeatedly demonstrate that prayers get answered. On a daily basis, I interact with strong, self-confident young people who know how to ask for help, seek out solutions, and forgive others’ transgressions. These kids regularly remind me to “let it go” and encourage me to see the good in others. The tears are my outward expression of my deepest inner emotional processing.
Letting kids experience life is not for the faint-hearted. I still advise those in teacher training programs to keep their hands busy to reduce the urge to be too helpful. Parents are teachers, too. We have to constantly strive for balance. Be present without being overpowering. Be supportive without taking over. Apologize when the line is crossed. When we invariably become too left or right-winged, share the recognition and the reset mechanisms utilized. Be willing to grow and model how to learn with our kids.
Admitting “You Are Right!”
Post-script: I told my kids, “You are right!” And I stated out loud my goals to:
- Take time to show how to change document formats
- Do my best to stop perseverating over others’ words and actions
- Pause and reflect back what I hear them asking instead of just jumping in and doing