The other day, I took my kids to the zoo. We bought an annual pass because we live just five minutes away and it turns out to be one of the best investments we’ve ever made because it’s an easy way to take the girls to do something educational and fun outdoors.
It also has a lovely playground, which my eldest loves. Every time we go, she wants to play on the slide. And this visit was no different. My youngest watched from the pushchair as we hung back on the edge, close enough to keep an eye out for any weirdos but far enough to not be blocking the other children that were playing.
And that’s when I saw her. You know her too, I bet. Everyone knows a mum like this. She was standing right along the playground equipment, hovering over her son who was old enough to do for himself, making a running commentary the whole time. “Watch out for that baby. Yes, good boy. Keep walking. Ok now sit on the slide. Look out for that boy. Don’t touch that.” And on and on and on. I was thoroughly exhausted watching her and I wondered if she was exhausted too.
See, her son wasn’t a tiny little tot. He looked to be about 5 or 6. That’s plenty old enough to explore on his own. While I’ll never think badly of a mum staying nearby to make sure her child isn’t taken away by someone with bad intentions, I’ll think all kinds of things of parents who hover and do everything for their children when they are big enough and capable enough of doing it themselves.
We really need to let loose the reigns as our children grow because they need to do things on their own. They need to take risks so they learn and grow. Now I’m not saying you need to let them touch a hot stove to learn that kind of lesson, but what I am suggesting is that you need to take a big dose of chill and let your child try things out on their own without your incessant meddling.
Your child wants to play sports? Great! But don’t stand there on the sidelines wringing your hands and panicking every time he or she trips and falls down. They’ll get up. They may get a boo-boo or two but they will survive and they will be stronger for it.
Sports not their thing, eh? What about the school paper or band then? If you over-worry and overstress about them making it, you’re going to make them feel bad for trying. And trying – whether the outcome is successful or not – is the most important thing your kids can do.
Sadly, what we’re seeing now is a generation of entitled children who don’t take risks because hovering moms kept the rotors turning too hard, and now these children don’t know how to handle anything, win or lose. Which is sad because really in life, it’s all about how you play the game.