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Challenge: Open Discussion

When We Steal From Our Kids

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I admit I did a lot for my son that now, reflecting back, I shouldn’t have. And I’m not talking about doing his laundry when he was 17 and fully capable. I’m talking finishing homework for him in 4th grade because he has ADD and after 2 hours of working with him to get 20 minutes of homework done, I would finish coloring the stupid frogs on the math sheet because I was ready to lose my mind. I truly believed I was helping him and that tendency continued through his early teens and even into the dark years of his drug addiction.

I talk to and work with a lot of moms and we’re often guilty of this - rescuing our kids from the realities and harshness of life. We have many ways to rationalize our bubble-wrapping of the sons and daughters we want to protect, and we can even convince ourselves that it’s our job. But when we don’t allow our kids to feel the impact of life and of their decisions we’re not helping them, we’re stealing their chance to learn and grow.

Trust me, I did NOT want to accept this feedback I got on a pretty regular basis from well-meaning friends, family and highly-trained psychology professionals. They didn’t know my son, they didn’t understand his specific personality and challenges - if they did, they’d color the freaking frogs too.

Not rescuing becomes especially painful when you’ve moved on from (seemingly) harmless saving gestures to decisions about whether to post bail or not call the police or take her in when she’s left treatment for the 3rd time and has nowhere to stay. I get it - I’m the one who put a mattress in the garage so my boy could at least sleep there after I’d had to kick him “out” of the house, again. It’s agonizing and every fiber in your mom-body is telling you to rescue. Just this time. It’s too cold outside.

I’d encourage you to start to look at these decisions and moments as a chance to let your child grow. Let them feel discomfort and fright, let them use their amazing talents to solve their problem. You may have to literally sit on your hands or drive around the block blasting music to avoid stepping in, so do that. Watch them struggle and know on the other side of the struggle is the pride and confidence they’ll have from doing it on their own, without mom’s helping hand. It’s SO HARD.

If you’re at the point where you need to distract yourself from a rescue, call a friend, drive around the block, sit on your hands or plug into an online community - literally do anything you need to not steal that chance for your child to prove to themselves they're capable, smart and resourceful.

If you can do this, know you’re the bravest and most loving momma on the planet.

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