In a recent session, a mother complained about her children’s bad attitude and endless demands. She spoke about their unwillingness to accept that “No” was a complete sentence, expressing her resentment about feeling so unappreciated by your kids.
I reminded Nadia of how she repeatedly gives in to demands for “just five more minutes!“ on the iPad or how often she tells lme she spends more than she can afford on an outfit her daughter wants. “It makes sense that your children expect you to jump through hoops for them,” I said. “They rarely have to deal with not getting what they ask for.”
“I know that I should stick to my guns,” she replied, “but I want them to feel loved!”
Nadia was dedicated to raising her kids with the kind of love and care she had longed for as a child. The problem was, in doing so she was interfering with their ability to cope with frustration or disappointment.
I asked her to consider that in fact she isn’t raising children–she’s raising adults.
I said to Nadia, “Consider your own capacity to deal with life’s more difficult moments. Chances are, you know that you can live through not having things go your way is because you have endured moments when you couldn’t make things happen to you liking. This is how we discover within ourselves the resources to adapt and make peace with life not going just as we’d like.”
I went on to explain that when we move heaven and earth to please our children, we are essentially telling them, I don’t have faith in your capacity to cope with disappointment.
This is a highly disempowering message to deliver, when in just a few years they will have to deal with boyfriends who break up with them, professors who aren’t be charmed into giving them a passing grade, or employers who fire them for forgetting to file a report one too many times.
If you’d like to learn more about how to help your kids develop the kind of resilience that allows them to move into adulthood with the knowledge that they are strong, sturdy, and capable of navigating life’s inevitable challenges, please take a look at my upcoming three-day online series on Raising Tweens and Teens: Less Drama. More Joy. We’ll be covering every aspect of parenting through adolescence. You can read about this event here.