As Matt Lauer said on the Today show this morning, “there is no shortage of chatter when it comes to modern parenting. from tough tactics to hand holding” — part of his introduction to guest, Jordana Horn, who recently wrote about her change in parenting strategy for her five children.
Lauer also reviewed the popular definitions of parenting styles such as “Tiger Parenting” (strict rules/high expectations), “Helicopter Parenting” (hovering over all aspects of your child’s life), “Snowplow Parenting” (removing all obstacles for your child) in his introduction to Horn’s latest parenting label: “No Rescue Parenting”.
For those of us with children in elementary school and beyond, the phone call from school can initially worry us. Is my daughter in trouble? Is my son sick? When we realize the call is about a forgotten assignment or lunch, or perhaps a musical instrument, necessary piece of sports equipment or clothing, our fear can turn to annoyance.
As I reflect on the number of times I dropped everything to “come to the rescue” it wasn’t very often. There are a couple of reasons for that — the most obvious and perhaps changed for parents today is — my children didn’t have access to a phone!
In order to reach me, they would have to get permission to go to the school office to call (and of course teachers would have to know why they needed to leave class to call home). The teacher would be the first to know what the problem was and triage, if you will, whether a trip to the office to make the call was appropriate. If a lunch was forgotten, the teacher would arrange to get a school lunch ticket from the office (to be paid back of course); or, ask the class if they would share a small piece of lunch for their hungry classmate. If it was a forgotten assignment, the teacher would say something like, “that isn’t a reason to call your mom, bring it in tomorrow and you’ll lose a point for forgetting it today.” In all of those scenarios, the child who has not been rescued is learning important lessons such as:
- life will go on despite this mistake
- my teacher can be relied on
- my school/classmates are my community and they won’t let me go hungry
- my grade will suffer because I forgot my homework
- this problem is not so monumental that I should call my mom to fix it
I didn’t have to rescue my kids often as they knew, despite the fact that I was a stay at home mom, I was usually not available during their school hours. Even more significant to them, I think, was they knew if it was a repeated or worse, a serial offense and they happened to reach me, I was pretty darn cranky about it — which would result in some sort of home-chore consequence.
My mom went back to work when I was in 4th grade. I knew if I got sick the school would call my best friend’s mom who was not working, and that she would either take care of me or make arrangements with my mom to. I would never have considered calling either of my parents at work. I knew the school had their numbers in the event of a real emergency.
Working parents — do your children call you at your jobs and ask you to figure out how to get them their missing items?
My children learned early on it was their responsibility to take care of their “job” of school and their extra-curricular activities. Sure, every now and again they would send up a flare (smoke signals, drum beats: remember we didn’t have cell phones!) and I would scurry to make things right. We all have periods of disequilibrium where everything seems to go wrong. Spoiler alert: I’ll be exploring that subject in next week’s post.
The first time the forgotten homework call comes it is okay to provide an assist. Follow up though, with, “I’m glad I could help you today, but we need to talk about ways you can remember your schoolwork yourself! I may not be able to help out the next time.” Creating “muscle memory” for responsibility comes more easily to some than others. Just like any other skill you help your child with, assess their innate ability and provide the appropriate supports and consequences. When they are older they will thank you for helping them learn to take care of their responsibilities by making them live through the consequences of not doing so.
Runitlikeamom is about finding balance. Rescuing your child from a dangerous circumstance or an infrequent “bad day request for help” IS part of a balanced approach. Try to make a conscious evaluation about whether your child repeatedly expects you to rescue them from their own lack of organization or responsibility. What isn’t part of a balanced approach is inadvertently teaching your child it is your responsibility to make things right for them by constantly rescuing them.
And when you hear them cry “Rescue me!” hear this song and think: Am I ready to try “No Rescue Parenting”? Let me know!
Photo credit: Prevention.com http://www.prevention.com/health/healthy-living/healthy-school-lunch
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