Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have parented in a different generation. I recognize each generation has its unique challenges but sometimes I feel like our generation has really been thrown a lot to deal with.
One thing in particular I have been thinking a lot about is our current society’s lack of ability to encourage delayed gratification. We live in such an instant world, some days I feel like it is next to impossible to teach my kids to be patient and to wait for something good. We as parents seem to have the idea that our role is to keep our kids happy.
Something I started recently with my oldest child is encouraging her to save up for her own purchases. When she asks me to buy something, I remind her she can save her allowance for it or she can wait until her birthday or Christmas. On occasion we will get a random toy or gift but for the most part we do not. However, not all of her peers are being parented the same way. We are bombarded daily with requests for things she “needs” and reminded we never buy her “anything.” Often when I do not have the same rules as her peers do (or what she thinks is fair), I get called the “mean mom.” Recently she spend her hard earned money on some Pokemon cards she had been eyeing. A lot of her toys tend to get left on the floor, strewn about. These cards however, have been carefully organized in a binder and are gently put away after each use. I felt like this was a small victory that I am doing something right-though the daily complaints may make me feel otherwise!
This led me to the question: why do our kids need to be happy all the time? Is it really my role as a mom to make sure that my kids never struggle and never feel negative emotions? In my opinion, no. This is my time to help them through those not so nice feelings. Like when they struggle to learn to ride a bike and I help them get back on, or they learn to read and realize it can be a lot of work, or they have to complete a chore that is pretty boring. During all of these tasks, they are maybe not happy and comfortable but they are all so necessary. I cannot be there everyday all day long to protect and control their environment. But during these little moments throughout our days and routines, I can support them to work through their challenges and help them to get through to the other side; hopefully a little more confident and stronger each time.
When I stop to think about it, is it really good for my kids to be in a bubble world forever? I want them to learn to self-regulate their emotions to be able to work through a fight with a friend, wait for an exciting upcoming event, or even wait for that dessert after a healthy meal. Soon enough their challenges will be so much more than this and I want them to be prepared for all the world throws at them.
So I guess I am a mean mom after all, and I am OK with that.