Don’t be Such a Good Parent
I got some great parenting advice last week. An acquaintance asked me about how my knee was doing and when my surgery date was. I told her that I go in for surgery next week and that Christmas will be pretty low key this year because I’ll be off my feet for the weeks leading up to it. She said “I have one piece of advice. Be helpless and do nothing. Don’t be such a good parent.” She recounted that one year she was laid up at Christmas and didn’t do anything – no decorating, no baking- so her kids did it all. The moral of the story was if we do things because we assume our kids can’t, they never will. Sometimes it takes just not doing something to prove to them that they are capable.
So they can do all the Christmas decorating this year. I (begrudgingly) will have to accept that my thoughtfully colour coordinated reindeer and glittery balls won’t end up in their perfectly designed pre-designated spot. Only the bottom 4 feet of the tree will be decorated and the garland with mini lights and tulle won’t be perfectly spaced on the sta
ir railings. I just won’t invite Martha for dinner this year; she never comes anyway.
And maybe I’ll get a bell…you know the little brass ones that people used to use to summon ‘the help’. The kids can take turns being ‘on call for Mama’; they can bring me juice. And they’ll have to look after themselves a bit more over the next few weeks; I’m even thinking of getting my surgeon to sign the list below.
For the next 3 weeks, Sharene CANNOT:
- Pull or push anything with a motor.
- Do any bending, stretching or twisting. That gets me out of everything else.
- Cook (just on principle). They know where the crackers and peanut butter are.
- Lift or carry anything heavier than a glass of wine.
They’ll figure it out. There is no reason why the kids can’t make their own lunches, put away their clothes and feed the pets. They don’t need me to pour juice and put away their socks. The only reason I do it is because it gets done the way I want and there’s less risk of mess to clean up if they do something themselves. Take the gingerbread house fo
r example; I’ll set them loose on the assembly and decorating. Yes, there will be icing EVERYWHERE and those horrible little coloured sprinkle things in every crevice and corner but they’ll have fun and best of all – I won’t have to do it. Plus it’ll keep the dog busy for hours afterwards cleaning up those horrible little coloured sprinkle things from every crevice and corner.
Bottom line is that the kids are capable, very capable if you let them. I might even let them to cook the turkey this year.