Parents, Please Stop Babying Your Kids
By Vanessa Palencia
Before we can get into that topic, you need to understand the definition of babying. The term babying can vary from person to person and can have both negative and positive connotations. One person can see babying as a term of endearment and act of love for someone, while another can view it as treating someone like a toddler when they’re not and not allowing them to grow. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m here to discuss the latter.
I love my boy more than anything in the world. If I could lasso the sun, the moon, and the stars for him, I would. Like most mothers, I’ve dreamed of giving him everything he could ever want: toys galore, a big backyard to explore, an epic treehouse, and a fridge full of his favorite foods. Sounds amazing, right?! What parent in their right mind would ever turn that down for their child?
You see, when my son’s biological father left, I felt the loss for my son and grieved in his place. At the time, I had believed that the only way way my son could ever truly be happy was to give him everything I could to make up for the lack of a father figure and prove that we could make it on our own. This resulted in my tendency to baby him. I justified it by saying that he’s my only child and probably the only one I would ever have, so why on God’s green earth would I deprive him of having everything he could ever want in life? I didn’t realize how damaging that sort of thought process was until a few years later.
When Nick came into our lives and took on the responsibilities of a full-time father, I had mixed feelings initially about allowing someone else to take part in raising my child. I felt like everything was shifting dramatically like night and day. I had grown accustomed to waking up and making my son breakfast in the morning and thought it was normal to constantly remind my child to do something that I had asked him to do earlier, like clean up his toys. But when Nick came into the picture, he jumped on board in full force. He believed that my son was capable of learning how to make breakfast for himself, and he believed that my son could remember the instructions given to him and focus on the task at hand. That’s the key word here, Nick believed in him. I didn’t realize that by taking over and doing all these things automatically and not encouraging my son to do it on his own, I was telling my son that he couldn’t, reinforcing the idea and the belief that he was unfit to do the job.
I didn’t realize how important it was to believe in my child in completing mundane tasks until I woke up one morning to my son in the kitchen scrambling eggs and preparing the ingredients for his egg sandwich. My 7-year-old son was in the kitchen making himself breakfast and wasn’t burning the house down! Do you realize how amazing that is? I can’t tell you how many kids I knew at 7 who had to wait until their parents woke up in order to get fed. That’s when I realized that before Nick came into the picture, I was raising my son to depend on his mother. I was stalling his growth.
As a mother, I understand how difficult it can be to let go of your child, but understand that if you’re not raising your child to be a productive member of society, then you’re setting them up for failure. There may be varied answers of what a productive member of society is, but I believe that understanding and following age-appropriate chores is a good starting point to set your children up for the future, because completing those daily tasks enables children to understand the meaning of hard work which they can apply immediately and in the future. Sheila Seifert has a really good and easy-to-follow chore chart that you can use, but you can adjust things as you see fit because clearly not every kid is the same! My son is a perfect example. He’s 7 years old, but I know that he is competent and mature enough to complete the list under his age group and those under the 8-11 age group, while other 7-year-olds may have enough on their plate sticking to their age-appropriate chores. However you arrange the chart, remember that it is our job as parents to help them grow. This means that your child shouldn’t be 7 years old and doing chores that a 2-3 year old can do.
It’s so easy to think that your child is ‘too young’ or ‘not ready’ for something, but that’s just a pessimistic way of thinking. I’m not saying that you must leave your child to fend for themselves floundering around blindly without any previous instructions. What I’m saying is that we must equip our children with the necessary tools to prepare themselves for this world, and the only way that they can do so is by learning through practice.
We need to encourage our children to try new things and help them push beyond their own limiting beliefs, but we can’t do that if we baby them. Babying is the paradox of raising independent, self-sufficient children. They can’t go hand-in-hand. So parents, I beg of you, please stop babying your kids because it isn’t helping them.