Awhile back I wrote a blog post saying that I have no parenting advice. Well, I lied. I know that new parents and parents with small kids are like 20 year olds & engaged couples who think they know everything and don’t need unsolicited advice but after my week training with seven 19-23 year olds, I’m gonna dish some out anyway.
Let your kids fail. Stop setting such high standards for them and expecting them to never fail at things. Let them figure things out for themselves and fail. And when they ask you for help, assure them that they are still loved and valued and then make them figure.it.out. Don’t do it for them. If you don’t let them fail, your children will not be able to survive without you. Maybe that makes you feel special that your kids will always need mommy and daddy, but for those of us who have to work next to your grown ass adult child who has no clue, it’s torture. Then we have to parent them and let them know that failure is expected and the world is not going to end.
But even more than that, children who don’t know how to fail are anxious, stressed and never feel safe. So your need to feel warm and fuzzy messes them up for life.
Do not let your kids play a sport that doesn’t take score and everyone gets a trophy for just showing up. Life keeps score and you don’t get a trophy for just showing up, especially if you show up late or not in uniform after the 4th day of being told to show up in full uniform. Life expects things from you. Life expects you to pay attention, take your time, put your phone away and work hard. We can teach our kids all of these things and still let them know that they are loved for who they are and not what they do.What I have witnessed this week is an age group of human beings that can bullshit their way through college or just life without ever truly living in the reality of the moment because they are consumed by the online world. And this is coming from someone who spends a good part of my life online! They are also completely stressed out, afraid to say anything honestly because they can offend someone so they speak in superficial ways. I am not really sure what exactly bothers me about that, but it just seems like a rejection of reality or of real, concrete truth.
But it’s not just secular parents who are guilty of this “no failure is acceptable” parenting style. It’s easy to fall into this parenting style as Catholics when our children choose to leave the Church or to live in ways that are contrary to Church teaching. It might even be easier for us Catholic parents to fall into to be honest because we know that our children are loved by God who expects certain things from us out of love for Him. We know that our children are created to be in a relationship with God and not just to be lawyers, teachers, artists or whatever they choose for their careers. When our children live a life that is opposed to that plan for them, then we can easily freak out and try to do things for them so they will turn back to God. I’ll be honest, as someone who lived a life with my back turned to God, you have to let them go. That means watching them suffer and maybe even letting them suffer by not helping them. Not because you don’t want anything to do with a “sinner like that” but because they need to figure out life for their own. That’s not the same as disowning them though. You can still love them, take them to lunch, compliment them when they do good things and most of all, pray for them.
So there you go: my parenting advice. Rant over. Now pass the wine please, it’s been a long week.