I hate list articles. Oh well, here goes.
Last week, It struck me that my Facebook feed does not add value to my life. (Oh, yours too?) So I unfollowed 80 friends on Facebook. One friend made it to my limited feed because she posted a meme that said, “Tough times create Tough people”. I clicked like.
I grew up in a third world country. I am tough. But are my kids tough? How can we raise tough kids when we protect them so much that they don’t experience tough times?
I recently posted about student resilience. If I am expecting my students to be resilient, I need to make sure my kids are too. As they say, resilience begins at home. Each of our four kids will have about 50 teachers in their 17 years of school. That’s 200 miserable teachers if we don’t raise them tough.
I think we need to simulate tough situations in order to raise tough kids. Here is a list of what we do to our kids.
- We let them go hungry. No, we do not wait for them to cry in pain before we give them food. We sometimes do allow delays in meals without feeling guilty. This turned them into foodies.
- They do house chores. The same chores we hated when we were kids. And yes, there was, is, and will be, a lot of whining. Chores instill in them that the world is a better place when they do their share.
- We do not help them with school work. We only intervene when asked, about once a year. We used to get Cs. Not anymore. It’s clear to them now that they need to do homework on their own, the same way we do our work on our own. This breeds accountability.
- We let them cook. There’s no microwaveable food in our house. There are ingredients to make food. We have a family recipe binder and a ton of recipe books. When they crave for something, they need to make it. Our smoke alarm has gone off countless times.
- We ask them to wait. Wait to get picked up, wait for siblings, wait to get to wherever without entertaining them. This lengthens their attention span, makes them talk to us and to each other, and makes them good observers of the world.
- We make them carry things. They unload and put away groceries for a family of six, about three huge boxes of food bi-weekly. They’ve carried their own bags ever since they were 5. I used to notice the look on other parents’ faces when they see my hockey goalie daughter carrying all her stuff. I just pretended that she was not my kid.
- We ask that they take care of their siblings. It builds up their empathetic skills and saves us money.
- We say ‘I love you’ multiple times a day. This lets them know that we love them regardless of what happens in their lives. Although sometimes I wonder, if we say it too often, does it lose its meaning? Who cares. We say it anyway.
- We buy only their basic needs. Now that they are teens and make a little bit of money, they buy their wants. We do take them on trips and give them gifts but they do not own excessively.
- We moved them to a new school or house, (or country for that matter) at least once. My heart broke many times when they cried on their first week in a new school. They got over it and found new friends. The experience made them adaptable.
- We ask them to donate regularly and then we buy second hand. This teaches global sustainability.
- We physically and mentally tire them out on most days. Not that we push them into hard labour. We just fill their days well enough so that night time is sleeping time. However, we only allow one sports or lessons at a time to practice focus.
- Lastly, we tell them that they can become whatever they wish to be. We always say, “If someone’s going to be an Olympic athlete, an astronaut, an actress, a prime minister, or whatever, it can definitely be you if you want it and you work on it.” I think this makes them tough because we have brainwashed them enough to believe that success is a sure thing when they work on it.
Sometimes this makes me crazy. Sometimes I feed them fast food to protect my sanity. There are random days when we cancel everything to get a mental, physical, and emotional break.
We are far from perfect parents. But in my heart I know that we need to try our very best to raise independent, mindful, good citizens of the world. I am hopeful that they will turn out tough and that they will raise their own resilient kids in the future.
Hmmm. Are we really raising tough kids? Or are we lazy, submarine (hint: opposite of helicopter) parents? Yeah, maybe we are and I am trying to justify that.