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Don’t Do More FOR Your Kids, Do More WITH Your Kids

Face it, and the studies prove it, we overparent our kids. We tell more than ask, direct more than discuss and control more than guide. Maybe it is our scary world that makes us this way (we feel we have to keep our kids safe). Maybe we are just like our parents who were convinced they knew what was best for us that we had yet to realize. Regardless, we are creating a generation of future adults who haven’t learn to think, do and be on their own.

The more we tell, direct and control, the less opportunity our kids have to tap into their own thinking – to start to take their brains for spin to see what they came packaged with (talents, abilities, interests) and how to use it in today’s world. They get acquainted with what they are good at, passionate about and what matters to them the more they are brought into conversations and discussions about life. It is in these moments that they learn – not in the moments of hearing information delivered at them in a one-sided communication event from a parent.

We Can’t Make Our Kids Lives Easy or Great

I know we love our kids and that can’t help but show up in trying to do more FOR them – to make their lives easy and great. But no life is easy and greatness in life comes from each of us discovering who we are and living what is true for us, instead of living to the plans of a parent or another. Doing more FOR our kids doesn’t help them show up and own their lives, know how to do life and show up big to their choices. Doing more WITH our kids creates the opportunity for us to ride along more in life with them, translate what they see in our world, and ask them what their thoughts, feelings and ideas are about what they see. We turn into their coaches, guides and sounding boards. We stop managing their lives and help them to do this work for themselves.

I hear more and more parents share that they are disconnected from their kids – that getting their teens to communicate with them is a challenge. Is it a challenge because much of the time the only communication they know or anticipate from you are directions and instructions, rather than open-ended questions to engage, hear perspectives, gather information and get acquainted with who their kids really are.

Many parents feel that the more they do for their kids, the more they are loved. From my perspective, the way to really show our kids how much we love them is to engage with them – to value the moments with them – to do more WITH them.

Do More WITH Your Kids

See, the more we do more WITH our kids, the more time we spend with them. In these moments, we ask questions, share perspectives, translate the world for them, and start to see what makes them different, unique and amazing. We become their guides, helping them make sense of themselves and their world so they can someday soon, do the all-important matching of where in today’s world do they really fit.

As we make the time to be present with our kids – to do more with them – we connect with them. Couple this with learning to ask more questions and our encounters with our kids become the way we help them navigate life – to find their unique way and for them to own the process of discovering, developing and living who they really are instead of who they have been instructed to be.

Some questions for you:

  1. In your mind, what does it take to be a good parent?
  2. Look at your parenting behavior – do you do more FOR your kids, or WITH your kids?
  3. What challenge with your kids could you address by spending more interested and intentional time with them?
  4. How are you helping your kids learn to understand their world so they can work to find their place in it?

Our kids are amazing, talented and unique – and most of them have no idea about these attributes. Our time with them and our intentional questions help them discover this information about themselves – so they then can learn to build their work and lives around what they do and love best. This happens best when we do more WITH them than FOR them.

About Jay Forte

Jay Forte is a family, teen, career and mindfulness coach, author, motivational speaker and nationally ranked Thought Leader. He helps parents learn how to guide, support and coach their kids to discover, develop and live who they really are - to help them be ready for life.

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4 comments

  1. This is a big truth and I totally stand behind it. We do more for our kids than they can possibly imagine, but they don’t value or realize that. What they do value is the time we spend with them, doing thing with them and that time and activities are the ones that remain in their memories.

  2. As much as we would like to, we cannot shield our kids from life and more than we can live their lives for them. No matter what we do, life is always going to deal out its own subjects in our kids lives and the best thing we can do for them is to prepare them and make sure that they are well equipped to deal with whatever life throws at them and make good decisions.

  3. We cannot and we should not shield our kids from life, that’s not the goal of education as far as I see it. I think the goal of the article is that we should try to teach them by experience, by doing things with them and not just the feed-dress process.

  4. As a homeschooling mother, I can say this is so true! If you do things FOR them, or answer questions FOR them, what are they learning out of that? They will be so dependent on everyone else, but never push themselves to their full potential. If you do things WITH them, and show them how to do things for themselves, they will become independent, which will help then prepare for the real world.

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