Being involved with our kids is a good thing, right? After all, we want to have relationship with them. We want to have influence over situations that our kids get themselves into that we know won’t turn out so well. And, naturally, we want our kids to be successful.
But can we be too involved?
I’ll admit that I have been that mom at times.
I remember the days when I would make sure that I looked at their class syllabus at the beginning of each school year. After all, I reasoned, I might need to remind them of their test or project due date. I wanted to make sure that I could lovingly nag them enough to start early so that school didn’t interfere with extra-curricular activities. “Better to start that project on Monday rather than wait until the last minute.”
And then there was the electronic grade system that gave me play-by-play updates on how my kid was doing any hour of the day. And, of course, the feature where I could easily direct email the teacher sometimes came in handy.
Don’t get me wrong, we do need to be involved in our kids’ lives; however, we also need to figure out when we need to start backing off.
I remember a mom who sent her kid to college for the first time and had a tracker on his phone. Throughout the day, she would “see” where her son was physically located on campus. Was he in class? In the cafeteria? Or heaven forbid off campus?
Unfortunately technology allows us to keep close tabs on almost everything our kid has going on in his life. It makes it easy to be that helicopter parent without even trying. It also means that we can easily assume responsibility for the very things that our teen needs to be learning for himself.
Turning 13, or 16, or 19 means that we should be out of the coaching phase of parenting having moved to the role of consultant. Being a consultant means that if our kids need help, they can come to us. Sure we might ask at the beginning of the school year if there is anything they need. We could even take time to help them get a system in place. And then, let your child know that you believe in them. This is the opportune time to let them know that you respect that they are starting to grow up and become responsible for themselves.
By letting our kids go, it allows us to focus on what God has for us. Rather than worrying about every move our kids make, setting them up for what we consider success, why not figure out what God has for you during this phase of life? Our kids need to see that we have a life too–one that is not always focused on them.
And if school has already started and you’ve already started being “overly helpful”, why not have a conversation now. Maybe you could try something like this:
“Hey, Honey, now that we’ve gotten you set up for the school year, let’s talk about how it should play out from here. I want you to learn to be successful on your own with minimal involvement from me. Part of growing up is owning what is yours to own. Part of the process of you being a (teenager, high schooler, college student) is trying to become more independent and I want to respect that. Another thing is that sometimes I become so invested in your success that I start to take the reigns when I should really allow you to be in charge of you. I’m thinking that this year, you should be responsible for __________. If you see me starting to step in by nagging or telling you what to do, feel free to tell me that I need to own what is mine to own and let you own what is yours to own. I love you and want to respect that you are growing up and moving toward adulthood. I’ll be available if you need to consult with me anytime. I’m not going to stop being Mom, I just want to give you the opportunity to discover who God created you to be without me pushing you.”
For each will have to bear his own load.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
“Let Go…and Let God”,