Who is Running the Show in Your Home?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/17/2020

Are your kids running the show in your home? This is a question I asked myself frequently as my children were growing up. If you are doing too much for your kids, you may feel like they are in control. This is especially true if you have athletes in the house because there are days when it certainly feels like their world of youth sports has taken over everything!

It’s tempting to do things for our kids that they should be doing themselves. We want to “help,” but really our interference is a way of keeping some sort of “control” over a situation. However, that “control” is a myth.

When our children are babies, we do literally everything for them, but that dependence must slowly – year by year—diminish if we want our kids to grow up to be independent, strong adults.

When we do too much for our kids, we rob them of the capacity to learn how to take care of themselves. (Parenting the Modern Teen, Louise Clark) Never mind the fact that over-functioning as a parent can lead to huge and frequent power struggles in your home.

Do you struggle with wanting to do too much for your kids? Here are a few measuring sticks:

You are doing too much for your kids if you…

•         Pick up after them. I know that sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself. But every time you do, you are teaching them that someone else will do it. Let them pick up their own dirty uniforms and sports equipment.

•         Remind them to do homework, chores, practice on their own, etc. A little reminder every once in a while is okay, but if you find that you have to do it every day, you’ve already crossed a line that will be hard to uncross.

•         Do their chores for them because they are so busy. For parents of athletes, this is a real temptation. I probably did it once or twice because I knew my kids were stressed with their busy sports schedules. But if they are going to say yes to a sport, then learning to juggle the rest of their lives should come with the territory.

•         Don’t teach them how to take care of themselves–cooking, laundry, budgeting. These are the basic skills they should be learning.

•         Consistently give them money they did not earn. A gift here and there is okay, but whether you pay by chore or give an allowance, be sure your child knows that they are not getting that money because they are entitled to it as your child but because they’ve earned it.

•         Go to their teachers or coaches when there is a problem that the child can fix themselves. These are conversations they should be learning to have as they get older. By middle school, your child should be able to advocate for themselves.

•         Referee their fights for them. Whether it’s with siblings or friends, talk to your child about handling conflict and then let them work it out.

•         Are quick to bail them out of whatever trouble they’ve gotten themselves into. They MUST learn from their mistakes so that they don’t repeat them.

Loving your children means NOT doing too much for them. Parents often over-function without intending to. Maybe you are busy and are trying to just make it through the day. Or maybe you just can’t stand to see your kids struggle or be uncomfortable.

Letting go can be a scary change to make, but how much scarier will it be if your children never learn to be responsible adults?

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.