This mother has an amazing understanding of her real responsibilities in raising her children. They will never learn this stuff at school.
Dear Other Parents At The Park:
Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially
after you've just heard me tell them I wasn't going to do it for them
and encourage them to try it themselves.
I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am
too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn't bring them to the
park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard
work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it
They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to
learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the
disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to
work to achieve it.
In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of
their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort
to make that happen without any help from me.
It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my
children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have
robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the
end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.
If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I
do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves,
assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of
It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed
them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the
risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.
I don't want my daughters to learn that they can't overcome obstacles
without help. I don't want them to learn that they can reach great
heights without effort. I don't want them to learn that they are
entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is
that's holding them back and *earn* it.
Because — and this might come as a surprise to you — none of those
things are true. And if I let them think for one moment that they are, I
have failed them as a mother.
I want my girls to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success.
I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions.
I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.
I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing
their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own
I want them to climb that ladder without any help, however well-intentioned, from you.
Because they can. I know it. And if I give them a little space, they will soon know it, too.
So I'll thank you to stand back and let me do my job, here, which
consists mostly of resisting the very same impulses you are indulging,
and biting my tongue when I want to yell, "BE CAREFUL," and choosing,
deliberately, painfully, repeatedly, to stand back instead of rush
Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and
scarier, and much more difficult to climb. And I don't know about you,
but I'd rather help them learn the skills they'll need to navigate them
now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be
healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered
by chanting, "I think I can, I think I can", and while those 15 whole
feet between us still feels, to them, like I'm much too far away.
Kate Bassford Baker