By Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life
If you don’t worry about your kids, you probably don’t have any. Our children tend to consume vast portions of our inner thoughts and concerns. Everything from the possible fall out of the tree to the potential child molester at the public pool has a spot in our heads that we assign time and energy to at some point in any given day.
We flurry around our children most of the time, helping them with the things they’re struggling with, warning them of potential dangers, thinking ahead for them in case the unforeseeable actually happens.
I’m guilty of this too. And I say ‘guilty’ because we’re really not doing them any favours.
This hovering over our kids and trying to create the perfect environment and circumstances for them to grow in is actually stunting their growth. Growth requires both support and challenge. Growth requires struggle and hardships and difficulty and things not working out as planned. Growth requires boredom and problem-solving and frustration.
I’ve given a lot of thought to why our generation has ended up as the helicopter parents, and initially I thought it was because the world really is a more dangerous place. Our kids can’t walk to school any more, it’s not safe for them to go to the local park or ride their bikes to their friends or hang out in the mall. We literally need to be there for them all the time.
But when I reviewed my own childhood I discovered that the same dangers were there then too. We all knew about the local paedo who hung out at the corner café. We had “safe houses” demarcated on our routes home from school because this was the time of the Van Rooyen kidnappings. I still remember walking home from school chatting to the army guys in the big tank that drove next to me because we were right in the middle of the pre-freedom riots.
So it’s not that, although that’s usually the reason we give.
I think that we haven’t stopped to appreciate the hardships of our own pasts. We haven’t healed out own wounds and understood that the things we thought were “bad” about our own childhoods actually helped us to grow, mature and become amazing independent human beings.
We also have more time, money and other resources now to focus in on our kids. While survival used to be a main focus in life, we’re now free to focus on our purpose but few of us know what this is and so we place all this excess energy onto our kids.
And then we’re bombarded with information. We have TV and Internet and smart phones and a constant barrage of parenting advice telling us that there is so much more we need to do for our kids to just be OK, never mind to really thrive. We go onto Facebook and we see everyone else doing these things that we’re ‘supposed’ to be doing, not realizing that what is posted on social media is only the ‘good’ stuff and gives a false impression of reality.
If we truly want our kids to succeed what we need to do is to STOP. To take 100 steps back, take some deep breaths, and let go. We need to stop focusing so intensely on our children and redirect that attention to ourselves – to loving ourselves and all of our experiences, to finding our purpose and throwing all of our energy into that, to enjoying our relationships and free time and starting to have more fun.
Our children will not succeed from extra lessons, or never falling over, or having us at their beck and call every minute. They will learn success by emulating us and seeing that we’ve made it through some pretty tough times and we’re still OK. That way, when they go through their own tough times, and they must, they will get up again. And isn’t the true definition of success not about not failing, but about failing many times and as many times getting up again?
Let them fall.
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