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The Real World [Preparing for Parenthood Series]

I’ll never forget my first year of college. Let me recount a couple of moments I wish I could forget:

-The time I rear ended someone because I was running late to class and putting on my makeup in my car.
-The several times I parked in meter parking and got tickets, because I was (once again) running late to class. I think I owed about $200 in parking fees.
-The many nights I ate Wendy’s dollar menu items because I would spend all my money on silly things and run out before I got my next paycheck. Chili and baked potato for dinner- every night.
-My biology class freshman year. I skipped the class on a regular basis because I hated it and ended up getting a “D”, all because I missed too many easy pop quizzes.
-Lastly, the night I cried myself to sleep because the boy I liked stood me up for a date. I went to a friends house and saw him, first hand, kissing a girl I knew.

Life is hard, right? Most teenagers have to deal with pimples, heart ache, and the unfortunate consequences that life often deals.

This first post is on parenting for the “big picture”. Parenting from this perspective reminds us that one day our little person will have to move out on their own (hopefully), get a job, and live life. They need to have values, be able to maintain friendships and relationships, and deal with the real world.

I am currently reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years by Jim Fay and Charles Fay.

I love how they urge parents to teach kids to think for themselves because one day they will have to do so in the real world- without our help! The idea is to help our children build a healthy self-concept (meaning, help them develop the ability to use their mind) and to share control with them (meaning giving them the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, within boundaries). 

The healthy way to do this is to allow our children to struggle sometimes in order to solve their own problems. We can do this from a very early age. An easy example I can think of is that often my baby will cry for me to pick her up. There are times I simply can not pick her up, and I want her to be able to figure out a way to keep herself busy. If I always picked her up she would never learn how to pacify herself and I would be limiting her ability to figure out how to play independently. It may take more time and we might need to have patience to let our little ones figure out how to do something, but it is important for them! 

Other ways to help our children grow in these areas is to encourage our children to think and learn by asking them questions. Questions like “would you like to swing or go down the slide?”, or “would you like to have grapes or strawberries”, help our children learn how to make decisions within boundaries that we set for them.

Doing these things with love, empathy, and understanding helps them feel comfortable trying new things and thinking for themselves. They trust us and feel safe to explore difficult challenges laid before them.

Lastly, big picture thinking also means giving up a little control. When I say this I mean not doing EVERYTHING for your child. Being a controlling parent stifles a child’s ability to learn for themselves, make mistakes, and experience natural consequences.

One of my favorite quotes was this:
“Many parents set few limits when their kids are toddlers. They attempt to enforce them later when their children are adolescents. By then it’s too late.”

I loved reading these insights that are helping to shape how I parent my daughter. Have anything to share? I would love to hear! 🙂

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