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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There's an incredible sense of helplessness when you, as a parent, have to watch from the sidelines when your child tackles an incredibly difficult problem. I'm not talking math, here. I'm talking the growing pains of being an almost teenager.

There is no specific problem facing Sam at this time, so no one need feel slighted, but after speaking with a friend about mean girl behavior already occurring with her young daughter, it just got me thinking. We moms have to frequently balance the mother lion in us with the teacher. And it's not easy. The mean girls don't go away as you grow older. And they're not just girls either. You'll have mean, bitchy, unfair coworkers, roommates, lab partners, and neighbors.

So, it's time to learn how to deal with it. And that's how my friend feels as well. So much easier to be friends with someone if their parenting style is similar.

I'm often frustrated with helicopter parents who hover above and rarely let their kid tackle things on their own. I'm more of a sideliner. I'm there when you need me, but I'm not going to do it for you (ie become Mother Lion) until you've given it your all.

Forgive me if this is your style, but maybe it's time for you to hear that you're hindering rather than helping your child. Type their report for them now and they won't be able to do it in high school or college. Make a laser for a science project in fourth grade and they'll want you to go one better in fifth grade. Fight their battle before they get a chance to and they'll always look to you first.

I don't care what baggage your kid carries or what abilities they have, our job has but one description: teach them to fly. And you can't do it for them.

I remember the mother of a handicapped child that told me the difference between parenting this daughter and her siblings. "Well," she said, "it's simple. You know how with your son when he's learning something, you kind of put it just out of his reach so that he has to struggle a bit to get it? Well, with her, I put it even further."

I thought that was amazing. Her point? She's always going to have to work harder to live independently, so she pushes her now to get her there so she's never robbed of a life of her own. Brava.

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