Moms are some of the most passionate people I know, especially when it comes to our babies. At any point, we are ready to be our kid’s playmate, help with school projects, be their biggest cheerleader and even fight for them, if we have to. So many moms work to become everything their kids need in order to shelter them from any potential storm; be it fear, loneliness, sadness or conflict. At first glance, it seems noble, like a bunch of selfless moms who just really love their kids. However, this type of love might not be as beneficial as we think and could end up stifling our children in the long run. Below is a list of reasons why we shouldn’t be our kids’ “everything.”
- It compromises their independence. In order to be well rounded, healthy and resilient, children need to believe that they can rely on their own instincts, and the only way they can learn this is through practice. They need to know what it feels like to be afraid of something, yet understand that they can conquer that fear (with our support). If we keep them from or allow them to avoid things that are fearful or challenging, they will never build the skills to get through things that are fearful and challenging.
- It decreases conflict resolution skills. Children learn through play. They learn social skills and conflict resolution skills by playing with other children, without the mediation or interference from adults. If they are used to mom being their primary playmate or diffusing a situation among their peers, they will never develop the conflict resolution skills that will be necessary even in their adult lives. Allow your children to freely play with other children and watch to see if they can handle conflict on their own. If you find they can’t then step in to guide and support.
- It stifles the development of meaningful peer relationships. When we become “everything” to our children, it inadvertently teaches them that they can’t rely on anybody but us. Teaching this notion to our children can cause isolation and loneliness because it decreases the chances of them developing meaningful relationships with their peers, specifically as they get older. Relationships are developed through transparency and trust and if they feel they can only be that way with mom or dad and no one else, meaningful relationships can’t be developed with others.
- It causes anxiety and overthinking. In addition to stifling meaning peer relationship development, when our children feel as if they can only depend on us, it causes anxiety when we aren’t there. And let’s face it, unless we have clones or are robots, there will be times when we aren’t there. As such, that can cause them to go into overthinking mode with questions like; “what do I do now?”, “who can I trust?”, “who should I call?” It makes them feel like they don’t have an adequate support system and that can be anxiety producing.
- It lowers their self-esteem and confidence. Resilient, confident children understand the power of self. They believe in themselves and are confident in own skills and abilities. If we rush to fix, solve, and save at every waking moment, they become more confident in our abilities but less confident about their own ability to fix, solve and save themselves.
From the moment you find out you’re expecting your bundle of joy, it’s almost instinctual to want to protect that child from any and everything. No matter how young they are or how old they get, we don’t want our children to feel hurt, frustration, fear or anything other than happiness. But let’s face it, that doesn’t make for a very whole, well-rounded adult and that’s ultimately who we want our children to grow into. It’s important that we support and guide and try our best not to do everything for them because what we want are children who feel empowered enough to do for themselves.