Every once in a while I like to continue a blog series I call, “Parenting the Lazy Mom Way,” to help draw attention back to the main idea behind this blog’s title — to teach our children how to do things for themselves so they can grow up to be great adults — and to share my own parenting “lessons learned” that anyone can add to their parenting arsenal. If you are new to this parenting series, you may want to start at the beginning and click through each of the previous posts… or just jump in with both feet right here today!
As my kids have grown, I’ve noticed that my parenting style has grown right along with them. To some this may seem like a “uh, duh,” statement, but really it’s not. What starts off as a lot of hands-on, practical, day-in-day-out parenting, suddenly grows (as your kids grow) into a bit more hands-off, let’s-see-if-they-have-got-it type of approach.
My kids who are now all “tweenagers” require a different parenting technique now that they are staring down the teen years. I can’t parent them as I did when they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers or even schoolagers. Each stage of their growth meant that I had to grow in my parenting skills as well.
In some ways, parenting in the preschool years is much easier, although it is MUCH more demanding physically and as a result, can be more draining. However, parenting in this stage is a little more black and white, yes and no. We are teaching our children right from wrong in very practical ways and settings (“Yes! Share your toys,” verses “No! Don’t hit your friend!”)
During these preschool days, parenting is a lot about laying a foundation in your children by instilling your belief system into them. What you deem good and bad, right and wrong, yes or no. But those foundational beliefs we instill into them (being kind, not lying, etc.) suddenly start to be tried in new ways and with new problems as they grow older, and a schoolager will start to have to put these foundational beliefs into action in these new challenging ways (ie. not cheating on a test). And with that, comes that next stage of parenting… giving our kids room to practice putting the beliefs they’ve been taught into action without a parent standing over them telling them what to do.
I still remember the first time I was really faced with this new growth in parenting. My oldest son was 7-years-old at the time and was on a neighborhood baseball team. While we were very excited about the whole baseball experience, I cringed a little on the inside when I realized he’d be hanging out on the sidelines with 12-year-old boys. After all, quite a lot starts to change in boys between 7 and 12!
One spring day, we sat near the bench and heard a group of “older” boys on the team talking about a subject that I wasn’t really ready to tell my 7-year-old about. And while I had done my “mommy duty” to teach my kids what to do when people around them start talking about something that makes them uncomfortable, or is inappropriate, it took everything within me to stay out of it!
It’s funny, I don’t even remember what the boys’ conversation was about, but it was just a little bit above what I felt was age appropriate for my son and I wanted to go over to the bench and put a stop to it. Then suddenly I realized I couldn’t stand over him and shelter him from this happening for the rest of his life. I had to give him room to respond as he saw fit, and as (hopefully) our foundation of beliefs dictated in his heart.
This was a hard moment for me! But I let go of my drive to protect his ears and decided to supervise what was going on instead. I continued to listen to the conversation the older boys were having and patiently watched for my son’s response. And you know what happened? As I sat there watching to see if he felt uncomfortable, or for him to flash me a sign to come rescue him from the conversation, I noticed he wasn’t paying attention to them at all! In fact, he was completely oblivious to what these boys were saying! He was enthralled watching the baseball game instead!
This was a big lesson to me. I knew after that moment that I had entered into a new stage of parenting. This stage was more about supervising than intervening. It was more about watching and then correcting later, rather that in the moment. That was hard for my mommy heart… I want to protect and shelter my kids from everything! I want their little ears to stay innocent. I want their hearts to remain pure. But if I did that, I wouldn’t be equipping them to know how to keep themselves innocent and pure, I would just be doing it for them. And that is NOT lazy mom parenting, remember?
No, lazy mom parenting is teaching them to how to do things for themselves. That way they can grow up and be fully equipped, ready to take on the world, and be great productive adults that know how to guard their own hearts and minds and make right decisions because they were equipped to know how.
Now that we are close to entering the teen years (my oldest will be 13 this summer) I’m realizing that soon my parenting style will have to grow, yet again. This time from supervising to guidance. While this further transition will be hard for me, I know it’s super important because each step of growth in parenting is really another step in equipping them and “letting go.” Which is why the foundational years of instilling a solid belief structure in them is so vital! That way you can transition from “Parental Intervention” in the preschool years, to “Parental Supervision” in the school-age years, and then “Parental Guidance” in the teen years more smoothly. And while it hurts a little to “let go” a bit more each time, we know it’s really in their best interest before the BIG letting go when they go off into the world to put into action all that they’ve been taught in our home and family.
I believe it is very important to give my kids a safe environment to make good and bad choices under our roof so I still can guide them! I want them to have their first “failures” here so I can teach them through it. I want them to learn that they can come to me after they’ve failed. I want them to learn that there are natural consequences to decisions they will make and walk them through those. Isn’t that what a parent should do?
So, what are your thoughts? Where do you find yourself in the parenting process? And is it as hard for you to transition to a new parenting technique and “let go” as it is for me?!