2009-09-07

Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing to do.

As most of you know, I have two children. As they have grown I have been there to give assistance and guidance where ever possible. Sometimes without it being desired ( "I can do it All By MYSELF!" ) Part of the growing process, both mine and theirs, is moving past the point of assistance and letting them do things on their own and then finally moving past the unrequested guidance and letting them make mistakes. This last part is hard. You see what is going down, you know where it's going, you can imagine 90,002 ways for it to go wrong. You. Can. Save. Them. But you have to stop yourself. They have to learn to do these things on their own because you won't can't always be there to save them.

Lately I've been working on, talking with friends about and even reading about others letting kids deal with their own conflict resolution. I wouldn't describe myself as a "helicopter parent" but, in the past, I have broken up verbal altercations and forced my solution onto the children involved once an issue became too loud (READ: disruptive to the adults.) This is easy, you are the king and have set forth a decree for you subjects to follow. Unfortunately I'm finding it's bad for a couple of reasons. 1) You become the bad guy and who wants to be the bad guy, you were just trying to help, right? 2) The kids are never forced to learn their own method of conflict resolution. Unless you plan on fighting their fights all through high school and arguing with the eventual spouse you are not doing them any favors.

This has been the hardest form of assistance to let go of so far but is also resulting in some of the best payoffs. Unlike knees that are banged up from falling off the bike you can't put a band aid or kiss hurt feelings. But those hurt feelings seem to haunt us longer than any physical pain and the lessons learned are hopefully as lasting.

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