The way I have looked at parenting, since the girls were very small, is that I am raising inevitable adults. My daughters will be children for 18 years (theoretically) but then they will spend a solid 60 or 70 years being adults. So I see my responsiblity as their mother to be teaching them how to navigate the adult world.
When I look around me it seems that so many parents are raising kids. Not just RAISING their kids but turning their children into lifelong children. Too much of the time kids in this day and age are too placated. Too spoiled. Too coddled. Followed around by their helicopter parents who want to shield them from the world. We work our our childrens problems for them instead of helping them figure it out for themselves. The way I see it that is a disservice.
We have made a conscious decision that with our kids they must first try to work out their own problems before we even consider interceding. In some circles it has become an unpopular decision. If looks could kill we would no longer be standing after all of the dagger eyes we have gotten at the pool or the playground when we urge our kids to "work it out" rather than work it out for them. The wonderful thing is that the girls have the wonderful ability to navigate the choppy waters of sharing, taking turns and cooperating with friends WITHOUT us having to play referees.
In turn the girls have learned the word 'no' very well. They have learned that there are times when they won't win and that (more importantly) that's okay. It strikes me that kids these days just don't know the word no. "Maybe" has become the new "no". This one drives me nuts. The world is full of no's. Rejection is a daily part of being an adult. When we placate our kids aren't we teaching them that the world is almost always going to say yes?
This brings me to learning disappointment and rejection. I totally understand the desire to shield our kids from the tough parts of life. I may talk a good game but it kills me in those moments when I have to stand by and watch my four year old struggle with rejection and disappointment. Unfortunately this is part of life. It's my job to teach my kids that life will be tough sometimes. I also have to teach them how to handle the tough stuff.
I would much rather help my kids learn how to deal with the tougher parts of life rather than toss them to the lions once they become adults. I think it's time for parents to start raising future adults. I whole heartedly want my kids to be kids but I also want them to be building the skills they need to be successful grown ups.