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ARE YOU A SAFETY HARNESS OR A SAFETY NET?

Good Enough Mother is exhausted and while I should be packing to get these kids off to camp for a week, I have to put pen to paper and get this off my chest. I am so over mothers and their micromanagement of their kids’ lives. ENOUGH ALREADY!

I started noticing it a few years ago. There was a faction of mothers who spent way too much of their time each week doing things like planning play dates (understandable when kids are very young) and reaching (figuratively) into the school during lunch hour to see who their kids were sitting with. Recently I heard the story of one mother who called all of her daughter’s friend’s mothers to make sure they (her daughter’s friends) were going to do something special for the girl at school on her birthday. Is that really the mother’s responsibility? I mean, wouldn’t she want her daughter’s friends to do something because they truly liked her instead of being strong-armed into it? In another instance, one mother called everyone to see whose locker might be next to her daughter’s in school. What is that about?

Good Enough Mother is exhausted and while I should be packing to get these kids off to camp for a week, I have to put pen to paper and get this off my chest. I am so over mothers and their micromanagement of their kids’ lives. ENOUGH ALREADY!

I started noticing it a few years ago. There was a faction of mothers who spent way too much of their time each week doing things like planning play dates (understandable when kids are very young) and reaching (figuratively) into the school during lunch hour to see who their kids were sitting with. Recently I heard the story of one mother who called all of her daughter’s friend’s mothers to make sure they (her daughter’s friends) were going to do something special for the girl at school on her birthday.  Is that really the mother’s responsibility? I mean, wouldn’t she want her daughter’s friends to do something because they truly liked her instead of being strong-armed into it?  In another instance, one mother called everyone to see whose locker might be next to her daughter’s in school. What is that about?

Does this help your child? I don’t think so. In fact, I think it sends the message that somehow they are ill-equipped to make friends on their own, a bad thing to saddle your kid with as they go through life.  How will they ever learn to make “true” friendships, you know the ones borne of mutual likes and similarities, instead of the arranged “marriages” their mothers had a hand in?

Childhood is fun but there are aspects of it that are also disappointing.  I’ve always maintained my job as a mother is not to keep my kids from disappointment but to teach them how to deal with it.  How will they learn to roll with the punches if they never get knocked over?

The flip side of this coin is mom.  One of my core philosophies is that we do not stop being individuals just because they (kids/partners) come along. We have to continue to learn and grow and cultivate interests that are our own, separate and apart from the family. In other words, a life of our own. If mom had her own interests, perhaps she would be less inclined to live vicariously through her kids.

In my book, Good Enough Mother, The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting I talk about the difference between parents being a safety harness versus a safety net. A safety harness holds you in place and keeps you from making missteps. A safety net is there to catch you when you fall.

I’m a safety net kind of mom; I let my kids take risks and yes, sometimes they fall down and skin a knee or get hurt feelings. But I am there to pick them up and help them learn from the experience.  Unfortunately, I’m seeing way too many of the former.

What kind of parent are you, a safety harness or a safety net? Do you protect your kids from disappointment or help them work through it? Which do you think is best? Start sharing your stories…

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