Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Kind of Mom Are You?

I know a mother that runs to her children's rescue to the point it is unhealthy. You may know the type as a Helicopter Mom from Love and Logic. She has younger grade school children, intelligent and fully capable of doing a few things for themselves. She insists on "saving" them constantly. They will whine or cry to get her to run to fix things for them. Anything from a spilling a drop of water to sitting through every step of their homework instead of having them ask for assistance when they need it.

Most of you agree, our job as a parent is to teach our children to be independent. Teach them how to do for themselves but help if THEY need it. Some parents get confused and keep their children dependent on them by doing everything for them. They need to be needed by their children. They can't let their children make a mistake or screw anything up. Perhaps they worry this will make people think they are a poor parent. I know this person thinks it is what makes her a good one. I see her cringe when I don't follow my children around and fix all they do.

I let my children feel the consequences of their actions or lack of. I am always available to help but I rarely step in unless they ask for it. So what if they lose 5 minutes of their recess for not bringing their homework back. If they whine, it's an automatic "No". They may refuse to wear a hat and gloves outside, they are chilly today but I bet they grab them tomorrow. I feel my children can wait at the bus stop, it is at my driveway, for 5-10 minutes without dying. This person puts them in her vehicle and waits with them. It seems like overkill. We live in the south, it's not like they are out in subzero temps. Only a handful of days a year it's below 40 and it's safe because it's in their yard.

Give me your thoughts on how you prepare your children for independence. What drives you crazy about other moms? Are you a fixer, too? How do you think this type of parent helps or hurts their children? How old is too old to sleep with you when it isn't because you believe in the benefits of co-sleeping, you just do it so you don't have to hear them whine? When should they try to pick out their own clothes (approved by Mom), brush their own hair (touched up by Mom), and get their own homework out (assisted by Mom, if needed)? What can your 7 and 8 year olds do for themselves? What should we expect from children that have lived with their parents all their lives?


Becky said...

I lived with a roommate who was the product of a Helicopter mom. It was hell, to be honest. She didn't know how to do anything for herself, and expected us to. (Um, no. I am not going to wash your laundry or vacuum your room or do your dishes. I, frankly, don't have time.) Mom moved her in to our apartment and put together her room for her entirely, while roommate sat on the floor playing a handheld game. Mom organized her stuff in the kitchen cupboards, and roommate had no idea where anything was (were she able to cook for herself in the first place, it might have been an issue).

Then she got a creepy boyfriend. They got married 6 months after they started dating (her very first boyfriend). She moved out without giving us any notice. She recently quit all her jobs without giving any notice (including a job as someone's research assistant at the university). She has no clue that her actions have consequences for others (and, eventually, they'll have consequences for her, too...word goes around the university pretty quickly).

I don't understand why people parent like that. It does their children no favour whatsoever. Both my DH and I were raised like you are raising your kids (except it can get up to -60 with the windchill here, so sometimes we get rides ;) ). I think we turned out okay.

Lyn said...

My 7 year old gives himself insulin shots. I'm so proud! LOL! We do help dial up and figure the dosage needed, then we hand the ready to go shot to him and he takes care of the rest (with supervision of course).

Snarky Mom said...

I am not a fixer. I let them learn from their own mistakes and I wait for them to ask for help. I might ask them if they need my assistance if it becomes clear that they are struggling with something but I do not just jump in immediately and fix things for them.

Now about the co-sleeping thing. I co-slept with The Girl until she was 4 months old and she transitioned to her crib with no trouble at all. The Toddler is a different story. He will be 2 next week and he still ends up in our bed. I have a post all planned about this issue.

The Pre-Teen and The Girl pick out their own clothes from a mom approved selection. I have their closets organized so that they can pick out a pair of pants and they have 4-5 shirt selections that match. And if they don't match...who cares? As long as they are clean and don't smell, I'm good. The Pre-Teen is responsible for getting himself up in the morning, fixing his breakfast, getting ready for school and getting out the door on time with all his stuff. I set the timer on the microwave just in case he runs late but so far, he's been out the door every morning before the timer goes off.

The Girl starts Kindergarten this coming August so we're working on teaching her these skills as well. She recently got an alarm clock, she's learning to get her stuff together the night before and she's requested a hair cut to make it easier for her to get ready by herself. She can get her own breakfast in the mornings already.

The Pre-Teen is 9 since November. He can make himself a sandwich, or an easy meal that doesn't require the stove. He can cook eggs with supervision. He showers himself, he sorts his own laundry and knows how to wash his own clothing. He puts his own clothes away. He vacuums, mops the floor, takes the trash out, takes the recycling out, helps with the yardwork...he will be totally self sufficient by the time he leaves for college!

AnnMarie said...

I live in ME; grew up in SD. Kids can wait for the bus in sub-zero temps too. Our daughter will starting next year! We let her choose whether to wear hat, gloves, coat, although if we're going in the car, we tell her to bring the coat along just in case. Once she went to get the mail w/o mittens and was crying by the time she came in because the gate was so cold. I simply suggested next time she wear her mittens. It doesn't hurt *me* if she's cold be her own choice. [As a grad student, I saw the neighbor kid out w/o a coat in winter, but she seemed happy. I thought it was awful...till now. My kid isn't bothered by the cold either so she often goes out w/o a coat on. It's *her* choice!)

She's been picking out her own clothes for years; I tried to get her to do it when she was a baby/toddler, but she simply had no interest for the longest time LOL. Only rarely do we tell her to change--usually only for church when I insist on nice clothes (but she likes dresses so it's easy).

Once she could walk, we rarely carried her. (She never had a stroller.) She's only 40 pounds at age 5, so I can still carry her--but I"m not going to! I knew a 4 year old who was over 50# and his Mom still carried him around. He also still used a bottle and pacifier. She couldn't stand to take it away from him. !!!???

If DD wants something, she goes and gets it--although she can ask politely if someone else is heading in the same direction, just like we ask her to get things for us). At meals, she gets some choices for some meals, but otherwise she eats what is put in front of her. Or eats it the next time she's hungry.

And whining is verboten in our household as well. If only we could teach our deaf dog that!

You might enjoy the Free Range Kids blog

Anonymous said...

The kiddo is 3. Our attitude is that he'll be an adult much longer than he'll be a child, so we'd better teach him how to be a grownup. For us, at this age it means participating in conversations (learning not to interrupt or yell), cleaning up his messes (within reason - he just has to do what he can), helping around the house as needed and treating people, animals and things with respect. I think he is more confident because he can participate in what we're doing.

He can brush his teeth (with a final brushing by a parent, just to be sure), put on his shoes/hat/coat/gloves, and help set the table. He likes to clean woodwork with a damp towel. I hope that stays fun for a long time!

beauty obscure said...

The 6 year old I look after who has lived very attached to her parents her whole life:
Picks out her own clothes the night before school, has a bath by herself (may ask for help with water temperature) brings her dishes to the sink after meals, puts dirty clothes in the hamper, makes her bed, cleans her room (with help if she is asking nicely without whining... more supervising... ok now pick up the books, ok now pick up the laundry), puts away clean clothes, walks to school with an adult (parents refuse to drive her as it is a 6-10 minute walk). She is free to ask for help but whining causes an adult to immediately stop helping.

Kelly said...

What drives you crazy about other moms? Them trying to get me to do things differently with my children and when they are with their friend's families the kid's mom will intentionally do things with my kid I would not. Example, take them to a movie I would not approve of.
Are you a fixer, too? No!!
How do you think this type of parent helps or hurts their children? I think they are setting themselves up for a lazy young adult that won't keep a job and be equipped to live independently.
How old is too old to sleep with you when it isn't because you believe in the benefits of co-sleeping, you just do it so you don't have to hear them whine? Well, I guess I am the worst mom ever but none of my kids have ever slept in my bed.
When should they try to pick out their own clothes (approved by Mom), brush their own hair (touched up by Mom), and get their own homework out (assisted by Mom, if needed)? I started expecting more of these things around 5-6 years old. When they started school they were expected to do a lot more on their own. I still pick clothes out for my 5,6 and 7 year olds but mostly just because it's faster and easier and they don't care what they wear.
What can your 7 and 8 year olds do for themselves? Raleigh is 7 and he has an alarm clock (all my kids get one when they start K.) and gets himself up, gets dressed, makes his bed, and picks out his cereal for breakfast. I pour it up. He then eats, brushes his hair (unless it is really unruly), and brushes his teeth. He does his homework on his own unless he asks for assistance. He gives himself a bath and has recently started fixing his own bath water. I do brush his teeth at night so I know they are brush one good time each day. He can fix his own sandwich and is learning to work the microwave. He is my birth child. My foster/adopt son who is 6 shadows Raleigh and does some of these things but I usually bathe him or at least monitor and direct him as he bathes and I would not let him touch the microwave. He has no concept of the fact that things get hot on the stove, oven or microwave.
What should we expect from children that have lived with their parents all their lives? I answered this already as far as my younger kids but as far as my older kids go...I do not do dishes or trash. They have days assigned to them for this. I wash and sometimes hang their clothes but everyone from 5-17 has to come get them and put them away in their rooms. Everyone 5-17 has to make their beds everyday and have a clean room at bed time. They must bring their clothes to the laundry room or they will not be washed. They have to be right side out or they will be hung wrong side out. I vacuum and dust and clean bathrooms most of the time but I use those things as ways for them to make a little spending money if they are in need. I don't give allowance so this works good for all of us. All my older kids 12-17 are expected to do all their homework and I don't even ask them a lot of days. They just know they are responsible. My older boys keep the grass cut and edged and the pavement pressure washed. My 12 year old will start this summer helping with this and be put on the rotation. Everyone is responsible for cleaning up their own messes as they make them so the house stays picked up most of the time. I am very organized and everything has a place and if it doesn't we don't need it. This makes it really easy for even the younger ones to put things away.

Michelle said...

Hmmm. Honestly, I'm a mixture of both.

If my kids miss out on a party or event because they failed to get me the necessary info on time, oh well. Life goes on. If they fail to do their homework when they are 16 I respond one way. But for my 7 year old I respond quite differently. I don't expect them to have the skills to do their homework on their own in elementary school! So I do check to make sure they get their homework done and make sure it's in their backpacks. There are consequences for not doing these things, but I will make sure they are done. At the Elementary level, I don't think they are ready for that responsibility yet. They need time to develope habits, learn organization skills, and establish routines.

Middle school years are a transition period. My oldest child has had a harder time taking responsibility for himself (such as his personality...very disorganized, ADD child) but my 13 year old is incredibly responsible, needing very little from me because he is so responsible.

But my highschooler? He only takes 2 co-op classes with our homeschool group: chemistry and journalism.

He's 16. I've given him the tools to be responsible for himself. I've taught him about organization. I've taught him how to establish his own schedule. It is HIS job to do his work. Sink or swim, it's on him. His choice. I will provide him with accountability. That's it. I figure any kid that is less than 1.5 years away from being able to legally marry, move out etc. should definitely taking the majority of the responsibility for himself.

If mine were in public school, I would not mind in the least letting my kids wait in a warm vehicle on the days that it's very cold. In fact, if I could manage it I would take them to school...but I have 7 kids, and I don't know if I could take them all to school and still get them there on time. I'd rather do that than take them to the doctor because they have cold/bronchitis etc. (Yes, I know they say the cold weather doesn't cause sickness. I don't believe them.)

I by no means rush to help them out of self-made situations. But I certainly enjoy doing special things for them too.

Michelle said...

I forgot to mention that most of the time my 9, 10 or 13 year old will make lunch for everyone!

Today, my 9 year old took it upon herself to debone a chicken I'd put in the crockpot, and planned chicken with macaroni and cheese for lunch. She also gave my 2 year old and 4 year old daughter a bath (including wash their hair). Volunteered to do both jobs!

All of my kids except my 2 year old make their own beds. Etc.

Friday nights are "sleep out on the couch" night. But the rule is the house has to be cleaned before 10pm to be allowed to do this. I've seen my 7 year old put a good dent on the mess so he can have this privilege.

I truly am a mixture of both types of Mom's.

Ashley said...

Even as a child more physically disabled than your Ella, who had lived with family my whole life, I was responsible for:

Picking out my clothes, even though I wasn't able to always put them on myself

Doing my homework, the thinking part, even if someone else had to write for me,

Telling someone when I had bathroom needs or accidents

I don't think what you do with your kiddos is unreasonable *at* all, I think it's great!

Abby said...

I'll think more later, but just have to share that I helped chaperone a weeklong trip with 6th graders to Cape Cod a few years ago. The kids weren't allowed to have cell phones or call home during the week (similar to a summer camp experience).

We had one girl who had an EXTREMELY hard time with this. We knew she was very close to her mom, but it wasn't until the first night that we found out that this 12 year old still slept in her mom's bed!! (We had her 2 friends push all their beds together so she didn't feel like she was sleeping all by herself, which helped some, but still rough.) She made it through the week and even had a whole day that she didn't cry at all! However, it was not a very FUN experience for her. =(

The other kids got a little homesick at times, but she was the only one who was consistently crying at nights, etc. It also didn't help any that her mom had told her she'd drive the 4ish hours to come pick her up if she needed (and called the teacher's cell phone every night to find out how the girl did during that day)! ughhh. Helicopter parents are a nightmare for teachers!

Anonymous said...

I have lots of children, 7 raised to adulthood. 4 of those are older adopted children with special needs. I have never hovered, but the truth is that these chronically abused and multi-substance fetal exposed children cannot do what typical kids can do. They truly forget important things. It's so hard to discern when they are really forgetting and when they are being non-compliant. Not attempting to "make them" wear the proper clothing only reinforces the wrong way in their FASD brains. It's really, really hard to determine how much to help them. I think it's an individual decision every day. Certainly nothing is equal with older adoptees. Their abilities will vary. They must be prepared to be as independent as possible, but my expectations are very different than for typical children. Three of my four older adoptees are doing pretty good today. One has many, many troubles and possibly will never be able to not cause society problem. One had lots of troubles getting to their young 20s but is doing better after lots of trials. This adult child is now pleased they learned to clean and care for themself even though it was a battle that nearly drove me crazy for 11 years.


Meg said...

My 7 or 8 year old could do a lot by himself. At 12 he can do many, many things by himself including all basic house chores, lawn chores, fix things, cook, etc. He can't do his homework by himself. He is learning disabled. I don't take this as any indication of his ability to live independently later. Also, many kids can do many things independently as a child because they have to. This is no indication of how they will live later in life so I'm not sure it's a complete cause and effect. Psychological coping methods and emotional intelligence are the best indicators, I think, of how a child will live later in life.