So, on this site we talk a lot about being connected parents.
About guiding and supporting our kids in their journey through childhood, so they can grow up to be fantastic human beings.
Today though I want to take a step back and look specifically at those instances when we need to get out of the way so we can be better parents.
It was amazing how many situations I could come up with once I got thinking!
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in –
#1 When Your Lid Is About To Blow
Let’s just start off with a bang.
Sometimes there are instances when we can get angry in a controlled manner.
And then, there are those when all sanity has left the building, and we simply want to scream, rant and rave not caring a hoot to what destruction it leaves in its wake.
These are instances when we need to get away to be by ourselves and calm down before reacting.
Not only are you making sure that you don’t spew cruel words that can really harm your child emotionally for years to come, but you are also you teaching your child how to stay calm and properly handle heated situations.
So when you feel like your lid is about to blow, get out of your child’s way and put yourself in a timeout. You’ll be glad you did!
#2 When Your Child Is Learning
I struggle with this so badly.
I homeschool all three of our boys. Part of being their teacher is that I get to actually be hands on and help them learn everything.
But I have had to learn that there is a time to teach and a time to move over and let them take the reins.
My youngest finished up kindergarten this year. We had a great time, and he really enjoyed his first year of homeschool.
One of the things he learned this past year was how to read. Talk about having to learn when to move over! He went from learning words to being a really fluent reader rather quickly.
Almost too quickly because I had a really hard time when he would say, “I know Mama. I can read that!”
We all know our children are very intelligent but sometimes I think it is hard for us to swallow just how capable they are.
But we certainly don’t want to hinder them. So if your child is learning anything new, let them. They’ll let you know if they truly need help.
Like me, you might find yourself surprised at how quickly they are able to pick something up and run with it.
#3 When Siblings Are Bickering But Not Harming Each Other
Our boys are 6 and 5 years apart. Don’t let that fool you for a second. They can still argue with the best of them.
But I had to learn early on that I couldn’t referee every argument being had. For one, I’d go crazy and for two, there just isn’t enough time in the day for me to do all that needs to be done around our home and still be able to decide fairly who looked at who first.
The biggest reason why I can’t referee these (seemingly petty) arguments is because my kids need to learn how to deal with conflict themselves. A little bit of arguing really isn’t a bad thing.
You might be raising your eyebrows at your computer screen by this point but truly, if they are arguing and not being harmful to the other, it means they are communicating their feelings with each other.
And to me, that is an awesome thing to have happening in my house. If you’ve never dealt with someone who can’t express their emotions then let me tell you, it is a terrible experience.
I don’t want that for my boys. I want them to be able to verbalize their feelings whether it be over something major or the pettiest of things. They learn this through their ‘interesting’ arguments with each other.
So if your kids aren’t verbally or physically abusing each other, then save yourself the frustration and let your kids learn how to deal with conflict. They will thank you for it down the road. It’s the best solution to handling sibling rivalry!
#4 When Your Child Is Doing School Work
Whether you send your kids to public school, home school them, or send them to private school they all have to study; do projects; and maybe even do homework.
When your kids are trying to accomplish these tasks, let them do them. They learn so much by simply being able to complete these tasks on their own.
I have to be honest. Growing up, I was raised by a single parent so I had to do my school work solo most nights.
It really wasn’t a bad thing. I got good grades and really grasped most of the material. I try really hard to include independent learning in our homeschool for this reason.
I learned firsthand that someone can teach and show kids something all day but until they get to put their minds to work on it, they probably aren’t going to fully grasp the concept.
Now, I had friends growing up that had very involved parents. That isn’t a bad thing either. I obviously consider myself to be one of those parents. But their parents would take things a little far at times.
My friends would turn in great looking projects and get great grades on them, but you’d find out later that it was their parents that did most of the work.
Though their children got a great grade on it, did they really get that feeling of accomplishment and understand all of the learning objectives by the end of the project or assignment?
Probably not. So if your kids are doing a project, assignment, or homework it is okay to help them a little if they get stuck. But give them the opportunity to battle through it as well. Support them from the sidelines and guide them through any frustrating situations. They will learn so much more and it will certainly carry over into real-life situations too.
#5 When Your Child Is Trying To Form A Friendship
I am certainly preaching to the choir on this one. When my kids are on a playdate; on the playground; or at a social gathering it is so hard to sit down and let my kids be social.
On the playground I want to make sure they aren’t being rude in any way; they aren’t getting hurt; and I want to know the social security numbers and run a background check on any new person they meet.
Okay, so I’m kidding on that last point, but I want to be very aware of all of their situations. Their safety and manners are very important to me in any sort of social setting.
However, I have to remind myself, I can watch them from a safe distance and still allow them the freedom to figure out how to form new friendships.
I can see from a safe distance if my kids are pushing others or breaking line. I can see from a safe distance if they have fallen and are really hurt. And I can also see from a safe distance if someone is hanging around them in a suspicious manner or is trying to lure my child away.
So if your children are in a social setting, remind yourself that the park has benches for a reason. It doesn’t mean you have to get lost in your phone or a book. It just means that you should sit. And watch from a safe distance.
Our kids need friends, and we have to give them the opportunity to learn how to make them and enjoy being with their friends.
#6 When Your Child Is Journaling or Writing a Diary
I love to write. I have always loved to write from the time I was a small child. It was a great way for me to express myself.
So it is no surprise that I think it is great for kids to journal or keep a diary. It allows them to write down precious memories while also allowing them to get things off of their chests and banish stress.
But when kids are journaling or writing in their diaries, we need to respect that time as a personal time for them.
They don’t want to write down personal things with us hovering over them. It is a time for them to release whatever they’ve had going on that day—whether it be good or bad.
When my kids are journaling I encourage them to do it in their rooms so they can have some privacy. I’ve encouraged my kids to have alone time every day because I need alone time daily. So I understand what those precious moments allowing yourself to decompress can mean to your day.
Our boys have watched me for years. They know first thing in the morning I head to our back porch. That is my time to drink coffee, pray, read, and journal to start my day off on the right foot and with the right mindset.
I can’t do that with my kids running around next to me. So they know when mom is on the back porch early in the morning they need to let me be during that time. I try to keep that in mind during their alone time as well.
So if your kids journal, keep a diary, or just like to have a few moments alone try to show them the same respect as you would want shown to you during your alone time. Our kids need time to decompress just as we do.
#7 When Your Child Is Quietly Entertaining Themselves
I have one child that can entertain himself all day and another that can for five minutes. It is funny how kids are just wired differently.
Either way, if your child is entertaining themselves, step aside and let them do just that.
The best way to encourage our children’s creativity and learning is to let them be bored.
Out of boredom comes genius. So allow your kids some time to simply play or read alone. You’ll be surprised what ideas they come up with and what knowledge they gain.
If we start interjecting they miss that opportunity to learn how to be entertained by themselves.
That is an important skill because if your children don’t learn now how to be okay with being alone then it sets a bad pace for older years. So many people make poor choices simply because they don’t know how to be okay with being alone. It is how a lot of teenagers end up running with the wrong crowd.
Also, allowing our kids to play alone does help our children build confidence. If they are able to play by themselves, read by themselves, or just enjoy being alone sometimes then they are gaining confidence in who they are.
According to About Parenting, “Kids who play by themselves learn to have fun on their own. They don’t count on others for happiness or entertainment.”
This is a great quality to let your children instill in themselves. It helps them to be better-rounded. So don’t hinder that growth within them. Just step aside and let them have fun by themselves.
#8 When Your Kids Are Coping With A Trial
There are some instances in life when our kids go through things, and they need us to help them cope.
Then there are instances in life when kids just want to cope with certain things on their own. When those moments strike, instead of hounding our children to let us in, we need to respect their wishes and step aside for the moment.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn. My oldest two boys are not my biological children. Though, they know I see no difference between them and the one that I did birth, it has definitely brought about different challenges for them.
Because they didn’t make it to our home until they were 7 and 12, they had to face some hard knocks in life at a young age.
They faced a lot of things that even some adults don’t have to deal with. My first instinct was to help them sort through everything.
We began by talking and just getting stuff out in the open so they could move forward. But then we hit a point that they just didn’t want to talk anymore.
They had some days where they were sad and confused. And other days they were seemingly fine. I grew concerned, but they finally got me to realize that some things they needed to process in their own minds for a while.
But when they were ready or had questions, they always came back to talk about whatever hurdle they faced. Be there for them, but in the sidelines. Give them roots and give them wings.
So if your kids are going through something, but they just want to process a little while on their own it is okay to step back and give them that time.
They’ll be thankful for your patience. I know my boys certainly were, and they also gained the knowledge of how to sort through situations on their own. Thankfully, they both have come through their rough beginnings so well and have blossomed into great young men.
#9 When Your Kids Are Trying To Stick Up For Themselves
We all face tough social situations. It is just a part of life. It is inevitable that we will deal with people that, to put it simply, just don’t know how to play nice.
So if your children find themselves in this type of situation, don’t be so quick to jump to their defense.
Now, I want to state upfront that if another child is laying hands on your child or is bullying your child, by all means go to bat.
But if it is a simple situation, step aside and let your child have the opportunity to stand up for themselves. They are going to have to start learning now how to cope with people in these situations. And the more practice they get the easier things will be for them in the long run.
This was something my mom wasn’t very good at when we were younger. She was our mother and no one was going to mess with her children. She meant well, and I love her for it.
But as I got older, it was really hard for me to stop depending on her to fight my battles. I struggled a lot in work settings because I had a terrible time standing up for myself. It was easier to be railroaded.
Now, I try really hard to allow my children to handle these experiences on their own because I don’t want them to grow up and not know how to take a stand for themselves. Hopefully they’ll have it figured out at a much younger age than I did.
#10 When Your Children Become Young Adults
I have a child that is now 17 years old. I had to learn through his teenage years when I should step in and when I should step back.
I learned when it came to him making decisions for his future, that his dad and I had to give him room to make some decisions for himself.
This is not an easy thing for a parent to do. I had to face this just today. My son had an opportunity to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica, and he really felt like that was what he needed to do.
It is hard to put your child on a plane to a foreign country and out of your sight for days on end. But we supported him because we knew he was making the right choice.
That was a moment I had to step aside and let him make the choice. Though I had my fears, I still took him to board that plane this morning.
But I got a text before the plane took off letting me know how much he loved me and that he was glad he got to go.
That let me know that somewhere along the way to this point, we made a few right decisions. And I truly believe that giving him the ability to help make his own choices was one of them.
The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents
For our contemplation questions today:
- Be honest with yourself: Do you have a tendency to hover like a helicopter in instances where your kids really want some freedom?
- What is your children’s reaction to your hovering behavior?
- Is there a situation approaching that you can plan to intentionally ‘step back’ from?
- If you struggle with stepping back, can you identify your fears?
The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents
- Be Truthful: As they say, accepting that you may have a problem in letting go is the first step to solving the problem.
- Identify your fears: Now take a step back and figure out why you can’t let go. More likely than not, at the root of not letting go is some kind of a fear. In the interest of raising independent, well-adjusted kids, look for ways to deal with these fears while still giving your kids little bit of room to stretch those wings.
- Make The Choice To No Longer Hover: Make it a big deal. Talk with your children to let them know that you realize that they desire independence, and you are going to try really hard to give it to them in ways that is freeing for them but safe at the same time.
- Identify Where You Can Step Back: You are almost finished! Just realize the opportunities that are available and take advantage of them! You will be a much better parent for it, and your children will grow into strong, independent adults because they were given the opportunity to learn how now.