January 2, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

It continues to amaze me how different my children are from each other. And I how I am still figuring out after all these years how best to teach, love, discipline and live in harmony with each one.

As a rule, mothers let their emotions and nurturing get in the way of parenting objectively. “He’s just a little boy. He can’t do that by himself.” “He is so sweet. I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” “But it will make him so happy!” etc, etc. I fall into this category often. Especially wanting to help and do to much for my kids. Right now my son Dustin wants to earn his Eagle Scout award. His dad told him that he could have a cell phone if he gets straight A’s and his Eagle. The problem? Dustin isn’t very self motivated. He talks about and thinks about what he wants, but doesn’t always follow through with what needs to be done. He needs to pick an Eagle project. But he doesn’t have any ideas. He is not searching for ideas. My problem? I want to jump in and pick a project for him and help him get started. I don’t know how much to encourage and help him, or when encouraging turns into pushing or me taking over. I had this problem when he took piano lessons. I wanted to encourage but not push him too much that he would resent it. I didn’t ‘encourage’ enough and he didn’t do too well. I learned from piano lessons though so my next kids will do better. (Actually, Brennen is doing quite well in piano, but that is mostly his doing, not mine). But back to the Eagle scout dilemma -- I am not in a hurry for him to get a cell phone anyway so I guess I don’t need to worry about it. When he’s 17 and still hasn’t got a project in mind I can jump in with both feet, if he wants me to, right?

In contrast, Brennen, who is 11, was born driven, independent, and responsible. He is very organized (unlike me) and a doer. For example, he can get up, make himself a hot breakfast (he’s been making pancakes since he was about 5) and get to the bus stop on time with everything he needs for the day in his backpack without me even getting out of bed. If he was an only child I could sleep in until 10:00.

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