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Please Don't Help My Kids

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up and help them climb the ladder. I brought them here so they could learn to climb it themselves.

Dear Other Parents At The Park:

Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you've just heard me tell them I wasn't going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves.

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn't bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves.

They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.

In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.

It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.

NEXTA Father's Dance With His Wheelchair-Bound Daughter Will Leave You In Tears

I don't want my daughters to learn that they can't overcome obstacles without help. I don't want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort. I don't want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that's holding them back and *earn* it.

Because — and this might come as a surprise to you — none of those things are true. And if I let them think for one moment that they are, I have failed them as a mother.

I want my girls to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success. 

I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions. 

I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.

I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.

I want them to climb that ladder without any help, however well-intentioned, from you.

Because they can. I know it. And if I give them a little space, they will soon know it, too.

So I'll thank you to stand back and let me do my job, here, which consists mostly of resisting the very same impulses you are indulging, and biting my tongue when I want to yell, "BE CAREFUL," and choosing, deliberately, painfully, repeatedly, to stand back instead of rush forward.

Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and scarier, and much more difficult to climb. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather help them learn the skills they'll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, "I think I can, I think I can", and while those 15 whole feet between us still feels, to them, like I'm much too far away.


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Lorna Craig July 09, 2014 at 10:12 PM
Actually you should be there to help them if they fall. Sure let them climb up themselves but even adults need spotters and a slide or monkey bars is quite high to a 18 month old or three year old. My niece had her front teeth pushed back into her gums, a boy at my elementary school died of a broken neck. Sure don't help them up but get up off your behind and act as a spotter if they fall off the top off the slide. Because a broken arm or death is not the lesson you are trying to teach I hope.
Lorna Craig July 09, 2014 at 10:15 PM
Honestly I was blown away by the comment that "I'm not there to help them if they fall" off the top of the slide or the monkey bars....guess that is for the EMTs. What it wrong with acting as a spotter but let them do their thing.
Holly Elizabeth July 12, 2014 at 02:05 PM
I'm blown away at the assumption that she never "spots" her kids because she's accentuating a point of hands off and struggle. Obviously if she thought that in these cases, it would lead to serious injury or emergency room visits, she'd spot. Way to miss the whole point of this...sanctimommies rearing their ugly heads. Uhg...never missing an opportunity to judge, be offended or feel superior...
Muriel Mary July 14, 2014 at 09:58 AM
@Holly Elizabeth, I think the tone of the article is sanctimonious and holier than thou. I am not so worried about her kids physical health, but I worry about a society in which it is not okay to give another child encouragement or a boost if needed. I am worried about a society that is becoming more and more insular, all in the name of independence. We already live in one of the loneliest countries in the world, and this mother seems to want to promote it. I totally get that she doesn't want to be the child's sole support, but if that child can ask other people for help AND GET IT, that child will be on it's way to building a good support system.

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