Have you thought about your ‘big picture’ parenting goal? Our immediate goals might be to have our teen clean up their room or stop our toddler from drinking from the dog’s bowl but what about your big goal as a parent?
Our children grow up quickly and I often hear parents lament about not feeling needed as their children become older. We all like to feel needed and it is nice to be the one who soothes a cut knee or serves them a delicious meal but what about when they don’t need us to do those things? How does that make you feel?
May I suggest that it is when our children don’t need us to do things for them is when we have truly met our goal as parents? Our goal should be to raise children to become functioning adults who take their place in the community, show kindness and help others. Are they ‘adulting’ if they have to come home to get their laundry done or you have to stock their freezer with meals so they don’t go hungry? We aren’t talking about when their washer breaks down or they are sick and need help. We are talking about their ability to be independent adults who can take care of themselves.
There is a sadness to realising we are no longer needed but this is also something to be celebrated. When a child solves a problem for the first time, completes homework without being reminded, washes their own clothes, cooks a family meal, or applies for a job by themselves, these are all milestones to be celebrated.
However, these milestones don’t happen by themselves and it is our jobs as parents to become redundant in our children’s lives. We will always be their parent so I’m not suggesting that our responsibility or relationship is ever redundant but we all need to work at becoming redundant as providers for our children.
So, here is my redundancy challenge:
This week I want you to choose one thing that you do for your child or children that they are capable of doing for themselves and work at becoming redundant in that area. Don’t overwhelm them by handing over a big job all at once but work on the goal slowly and provide them with the tools and confidence to meet that goal. For example, if you want them to be able to cook a family meal, sit down with them and work out what they might want to start with. Cook the first one together but give them the whole responsibility for one part of the meal. Don’t criticise or expect it to be done as well as you do it but celebrate it as a milestone in becoming redundant. Work towards them planning, cooking and serving a whole family meal once a week.
If your children are younger, then it could be time for them to get their own school lunches ready. Begin by having things prepared for them like a section in the freezer with sandwiches, a section in the fridge for fruit and maybe a basket where they can choose a small treat. They will feel very grown up choosing their lunch components and putting them in their bag. The next step is to have them help prepare the sandwiches, choose the fruit and think about treats that are healthy.
Become a redundant parent in your home and celebrate the greatest of all parenting goals by raising independent, resilient children who grow into self-sufficient, adults who can take care of themselves and others.
Parenting is hard and this may seem like a goal in the distant future but it begins at a very young age. I want to use this opportunity to encourage you to book your tickets to one or both of Dr Justin Coulson’s seminars on Tuesday 6 September. This is a valuable opportunity to hear from one of the best parenting experts in Australia and it is right here in person at GPAC. If you haven’t already booked your tickets, you can learn more about the two seminars in this article and on the home page of our website.
Mike Curtis, Principal