As we ring in a New Year, our thoughts of course, turn to resolutions. What do we want to do differently in the coming year to make ourselves and our lives oh-so-much better? As I think about resolutions and changes I want to make in the New Year, my thoughts turn more often that not to my parenting habits rather than my eating or exercising habits.
It’s true: my parenting is what I fret and berate myself over more than any other area of my life. It’s the one thing I am TRULY terrified of screwing up. So, as I evaluate this past year and my kiddos’ needs compared with my actions, I have come up with some resolutions of a sort, but…
These aren’t things I need to do as a parent this year, these are things I DON’T need to do, and more specifically 7 things MY kids don’t need ME to give them in the New Year. And 7 things YOUR kids don’t need either.
1. Unlimited/unfiltered internet access
This may seem obvious, but few parents, including myself, realize what a loaded gun unfiltered internet is until something bad happens: your kid accidentally sees porn which they can NEVER unsee, or starts a seemingly innocent online relationship with someone who is not innocent at all but a dangerous predator. In addition, kids need time limits as well as filters on the internet. This year, your kids DON’T need you to let them spend as much unsupervised time on the unfiltered internet as they want; they need exactly the opposite. For more resources on how to deal with this, check out Covenant Eyes.
2. A personal servant
I have been guilty pretty much since day 1 of doing TOO much for my kids. But here’s the truth, I’m not raising kids, I’m raising adults! I need to teach them how to function in the real world. So they don’t need me to pick out their clothes, do all their laundry and magically make their meals appear. As soon as they are old enough, they need to learn how to do these things. All three of mine help with dishes and some seasonal chores but this is the year we get them REAL prepared to do things for themselves. Me doing everything for them is SO not helpful at all.
3. A participation trophy
Last year both of my older kids participated in both their school spelling bee and school speech meet. Before both events, one of them worked really hard and one of them kinda-sorta panic-prepared at the last minute. When the competitions were done in both events, one came home with some ribbons and the other didn’t. And THAT is how it should be. Your kids don’t need to win a trophy or a ribbon just for showing up, they need the one (or not) that reflects the amount of work they put into it.
4. An overloaded schedule
Our family, like most today, is busy. So we limit our kids’ activities to just one or two that they really love. I’ve had to tell my daughter “no” on a couple things because she wants to do it ALL, and my husband works til 6:30 and I just can’t personally do all the kid-running myself. It’s tough to find the balance between what your kids want to do and what you can handle as a family—but an overloaded schedule isn’t good for any of you! Your kids simply don’t need to be running from school to practice to lessons seven days a week. Our kids are so much more than the extracurriculars.
5. Custom-made meals
This is the year I finally put my foot down and started making my kids eat what I cook for dinner, the way I cook it. No special requests, no making 3 different meals for my 3 picky eaters. Eat what I make or be hungry. The end. And, it’s one of the BEST parenting decisions I’ve ever made. Your kids don’t need their own custom-made meal, and neither do mine.
6. Picture-perfect school projects
If I see one more kid toting a project into school that he or she OBVIOUSLY did not do themselves, I might scream. Kiddos need to work hard on their school projects with parental guidance as needed (you know, I’m not gonna let my 7-year-old operate the glue gun just yet) but your kids do NOT need for you to do their projects for them. So what if theirs isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing? As long as it’s THEIRS, and not YOURS, it gets an A+ in my book.
7. More real-world knowledge than they are ready for
There is a danger in sheltering our kids too much, but there is also a danger in telling them too much about our harsh world too soon. Just like unfiltered access to the internet, unfiltered access to current events, especially seen through someone else’s viewpoint, can be harmful to our kids. So save beheadings, rapes, and mass shootings until they’re old enough and strong enough to carry the burden of that knowledge. I mean, I am not going to let my child know about rape before we’ve even had the sex talk, right? Knowledge needs to, if we can help it, come in age-appropriate waves. A great way of not sheltering your kids from the hard things in the world this year is to involve them in age-appropriate ministry and community service like volunteering at a food bank or participating in a winter coat drive or diaper drive for those in need.
So, those are 7 things that your kids and my kids don’t need this year. What would YOU add to the list?