Raising Self-Sufficient Children in a “Needy” World

Raising Self-Sufficient Children in a “Needy” World

Thinking back on my childhood, I don’t ever remember playing with my parents. Their hectic work schedules demanded most of their time during the week, and on the weekends, we didn’t sit down to family board games, crafts, or cooking because my mother had a plethora of cleaning and errands to run (and my Father was still working).

There were three of us, and during the week we were latchkey kids. My older sister, who was 11 at the time, was the one who made and served us dinner, and we washed the dishes ourselves while taking care of the dogs and making our own lunches for the next day.

We also entertained ourselves. **(GASP)**

That’s right. We had no one to complain to about boredom nor did we expect our parents to keep us entertained. We had a basement full of toys, a TV, and Nintendo. We played with and entertained each other, or sometimes we just played alone. Furthermore, there were no referees available to stop our fights, so we were left to resolve our own arguments- however it panned out that day. (There is a chocolate milk in the face incident I remember quite vividly…)

How This Affected Us

Fast forward to today. My eldest is in no way ready, nor will she be ready anytime soon, to take on the responsibilities that my eldest sister did. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a SAHM (turned WAHM) during my kid’s childhood, something I had always wished our Mother could be to us growing up, but I’m having second thoughts about it now.

Is it hindering their ability to grow into self-sufficient and responsible individuals?

Now don’t get me wrong, my parents in no way neglected us, they just didn’t coddle us much like parents do with their children today- and we turned out just fine. In fact, I’d venture to say that learning to be self-sufficient early on has helped me to grow into a responsible and ambitious adult. If I need or want something, I know that I need to get up and get it myself.

Gymboree Sale On Now!

My parents weren’t neglectful, unloving, or selfish. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They worked really hard to provide a safe and comfortable lifestyle for us. Neither my mother or my father has ever worked a normal, 8-hour day or 40-hour work week. My father has worked night and double shifts my whole life, and my mother has never put in just 40 hours worth of work- she’s always done more and/or worked from home in addition to office hours. My parents always worked hard for everything they had, and they worked hard for us.

 

In exchange, my sisters and I had to learn to be self-sufficient early on and figure out things on OUR OWN.

We did our homework, fed ourselves, and made our own lunches without anyone there to remind or nag us to do so. If I left my lunch or violin at home, there was no one to retrieve it for me. I had to face the wrath of the orchestra teacher on more than one occasion, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that if I wanted to spare myself the embarrassment, I needed to make sure to bring my violin on orchestra days. Would I have been as responsible if I had my Mother to remedy my forgetfulness every time?

How This Affects My Kids

Are we raising self-sufficient children, or are helicopter parenting methods destroying any chance our children have at being independent and responsible? Find out more, click here.

So now I look at my kids. They are constantly bored and looking to me to entertain them or give them something to do. Responsibility and mindfulness seems a few years off, and the only way I can get my daughter to do her homework is if I remind her, nag her, and threaten her from the time she gets home until it’s done. No one makes their own lunches.  When my daughter has attempted to do so in the past, it’s been tossed out and replaced with a hot lunch that she conveniently charges to her school account- that I will get the bill for later.

There’s always someone picking up the slack, being responsible, and doing things for them. It’s causing them to be needy, hindering their ability to be self-sufficient, and makes them seek happiness from others.

This is first-hand knowledge.

I’ve been their ages and remember what I was capable of doing without guidance or supervision. I know what they are capable of, too- and it is a far cry from where I was at that age. As parents, we need to ask ourselves:

  1. Is helicopter parenting and/or coddling causing us to raise a generation of kids who cannot do anything for themselves?
  2. What will these children be like as adults?
  3. Are the basic lessons of survival, self-sufficiency, and responsibility being lost in kids whose parents are TOO available?

What Parents are Doing Wrong

We all want to keep our kids safe and on the right path, but overstepping our boundaries is not helping our kids to learn and grow. Here’s what we’re doing wrong:

  • Not allowing them to experience the consequences of their own actions. Ex. Blaming teachers for their grades.
  • Doing their work for them. You’re there to GUIDE them, not do it FOR them. Ex. Homework projects, making lunch, etc…
  • Not letting them experience disappointment. Life won’t always be perfect and you won’t always be there to soothe things over for them. It’s best they learn to deal with disappointment now.
  • If your child hasn’t earned something, you shouldn’t be fighting for them to have it. How will they ever experience true accomplishment when they’re rewarded either way?

What Parents Should Want for Their Kids

In a sea of coddled and entitled children, I want my kids to be the self-sufficient, responsible, and ambitious. I want my kids to know that nothing worth having comes easy and that if they want something they’ll need to work hard for it.

I want them to be able to take care of themselves, well enough, and without my constant reminding or threats. I want them to find happiness from within and use their imagination to learn about their world. Most of all, I want them to learn from their mistakes and form their lives based on their own thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

We’re not here to entertain them, solve all their problems, or meddle in situations that may cause them temporary pain, but grant them long-term knowledge, experience, and training for the real world.

We’re here to GUIDE them.

To teach them how to take care of themselves through hygiene, nourishment, food, and health. To show them how to be compassionate, contributing members of society who know right from wrong. We’re here to show them how to be responsible adults …ON THEIR OWN.

Responsible adults aren’t made overnight and they aren’t handed these traits. These traits are learned through trial and error, with guidance, and involve learning through mistakes, pain, and heartbreak.

We need to stop coddling our kids.

 

Why is raising self-sufficient #kids more important now than ever? Find out here: Click To Tweet

 

Family Time

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think it’s important to spend time with your children, to have experiences together and play together. However, when it comes to the point that your children need you to keep them entertained always, or need you to do things for them (that they should be capable of doing themselves), this is when a line needs to be drawn. Children need to be able to grow, and smothering them doesn’t allow for this to happen.

My Plan

Our kids need to be taught to take care of themselves and today’s parenting styles are hindering our ability to do that. We need to stop doing so much for them and let them grow on their own because we won’t always be there. It’s better they find out how to deal with the world while in our care and not alone in the real world. The next post, Why You Need to “Neglect” Your Children, goes into further detail on how I plan to raise my kids to be self-sufficient.

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my popular posts Getting Kids to Listen Without Losing It and Are You Raising Fearful Children?.

Are you a Helicopter Parent or are you more laid back? What do you feel works best? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Pamela is a Freelance Writer, Blogger, WAHM of 3, and Veteran Military Wife living in Southwest Texas. Raised in the Northeast and having lived a few years in the Pacific Northwest, she likes to write about mom life, parenting, frugal living, experiences, and WINE. (Lots of wine!) When she’s not busy chasing toddlers around, you can find her on the blog or on social media. Check her out on Instagram: instagram.com/wineandlavender



16 thoughts on “Raising Self-Sufficient Children in a “Needy” World”

  • This is such a thoughtful and important post. There’s a lot of tension between wanting to provide our children a good life, but making sure they take on responsibility too.

    • Hey Gina! Thanks for stopping by. I agree. We all want our kids to be happy and we want to help them as much as we can, but I feel like parents today are overstepping their boundaries.

  • This is a great post for all parents to consider. We need to let our kids take responsibility for decisions while guiding them. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey Jen! Thanks for stopping by. I couldn’t agree more- I feel like kids nowadays do not have the same sense of responsibility as we did when we were kids.

  • I’ve wondered about this topic myself for awhile. My son is young but I already see signs of me being his number one playmate. Times have changed. But I suppose change starts with an awareness. Great post! Thoughtful, well-written and interesting.

  • Hi Amber! Thanks so much for your kind words. Yes, times have certainly changed- some things for the better, but others not so much. Figuring out a good balance is what we all have to do. 🙂

  • What kind of parent am I? I like to think of myself as a strict parent. I used to be a whole lot worse but either I became more laid back recently OR my kids finally learned and got their lives together 😉 lol.

    You bring up so many good points though. I don’t have one single memory of my mom playing games with me as a kid. She has worked 12 hour shifts at night ever since I can remember. I do remember my Dad play video games with us and that was cool but I don’t think any less of my childhood because I don’t have family game night memories.

    For the past year my kids who are 10 and 11 have learned to do chores like sweeping, mopping, cleaning the bathrooms, and they learned to do their own laundry and do dishes. They can cook and a bake a few things. At first I taught them because I was tired of doing it for them and busy! And now that I am working full time away from the house I am so grateful they are self sufficient. They aren’t perfect but I don’t worry that I’ll come home to a messy home and I can trust them to help me with their little sister for a few hours.

    A few weeks ago one of them forgot to do their laundry- instead of me doing it for her I told her to grab her least dirtiest clothes and freshen them up a bit and wear those. AND NOTHING HAPPENED. LOL. In the past I may have stayed up late to get her clothes done for her, but I knew she needed to learn. When I got home from work that day she had remembered to wash all of her clothes and put them away! #winning 😉

    • Hey Crystal! I love this. I cannot wait to get to the point where the kids can do their own laundry!! A friend of mine has her 6yo do his own laundry. She just buys the laundry pods to make it a little easier and safer. I thought this was a great idea and I’m planning something simialr for my littles. I’m starting to look at this whole parenting thing a little different now- they need to learn how to take care of themselves, not just to lessen my workload, but because they need to learn how to take care of themselves! LOL What’s the saying? Give a man a fish and feed him for a day- Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime….

  • I’ve been working on passing some responsibilities off to my children. It’s a struggle, though, since they would much rather play all day. We started a chore chart, and that’s been helping so far.

    • Hi Tara! Thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean about them choosing play over responsibility (Even as an adult I feel like that sometimes, too! LOL). A chore chart is definitely a great place to start!!

  • I’m a nanny, not a mom, but I have had to explain to the children I watch that my job is not to entertain them and do everything for them. It’s been a tough lesson, because their parents are definitely more on the helicopter side.

    Thanks for being bold and willing to publish an opinion that not everyone agrees with these days.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Dawn. Every parent has a different parenting style, I just want to make sure that my kids learn to be self-reliant and not have to depend on anyone else to be entertained or for self-care. I feel like kids these days depend on their parents for EVERYTHING and that’s not a good idea. We won’t always be there.

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