See why one mom decided to hang up her cape for good...
You see, I was what you would call a "Superhero Parent'. I had an invisible pink cape with a big silver letter 'M' on it, for "Mom". Although I have since hung up my cape, I learned a lot during that time period. I was on top of the world, and felt undefeated in my league...or so I thought. My domain was my home. I held different Superhero titles during that time; chef, doctor, taxi driver, banker, maid, teacher...just to name a few. I did it all! If my child had a need, I put the appropriate title on my cape and flew in to save the day. When the job was done I was left feeling fulfilled, as I had just met their need. Well, fulfilled and completely exhausted that is.
Now don't get me wrong here. I feel every parent needs to meet the needs of their children. However, there is a fine line between meeting their needs and doing absolutely everything for them. In my experience, my children's needs came before my own quite often, leaving me tired, stressed, and empty. If they wanted to do fifty activities, I did what it took. If they wanted the latest newest gadget, I got it. I had actually convinced myself that in order to be a good parent, I needed to fulfill their every request. As they began to get older, I was so accustomed to putting the cape on, that I found myself teaching a very bad habit to my children. They were quickly learning that nothing in life came at a cost. I would often find myself flying throughout the house and doing chores they were perfectly capable of doing themselves. If I wasn't making their bed, or putting their laundry away, I was cleaning up their trail of toys and clothes. I began to wonder whether I was really helping them or hindering them. "Well, you're the parent, that is your job", you may say. Yes, to an extent it is. But there was a point in which I had to stop being a 'Helicopter Parent' (a parent who hovers over their child), and start enabling them to become responsible young men. I've seen young adults graduate high school and head off to college without a clue on how to survive. Some had never even done a load of laundry before! The more I began to evaluate my Superhero status, the less appealing it became. I started to question my role as a parent and leader to the kids. A light bulb went off! If I wanted the boys to be responsible, self-sufficient young men, I had to show them hands-on how. It would take instilling healthy habits at a young age, which was going to require effort, and patience on my part.
Step one, hang my cape up. I came to the realization that my cape was weighing not only myself down, but my kids as well. Step two, assign age friendly chores to the kids and prepare for a small battle. No kid likes to work! Heck, I don't even like to work! I started them out with small stuff like remembering to do morning chores, without a reminder. Once they mastered that, I moved on to everyday living chores; making bed, emptying trash, feeding dog, putting their own laundry away, and keeping their room free of toys and clothes on the floor. Every now and then they will even empty the dishwasher or help with dinner. My goal was to show them that being part of a family meant doing your part. So, at age 7 and 9 years old, they are learning that it is normal and expected to do such chores. Not only is it helping to take a load from my chore list, but helping to prepare them for when they are on their own. Besides, their future wife will thank me! Sure, it was quicker and easier for me to do it for them, plus it was done the way I wanted it done. I had to learn to let go and allow them to learn the task at their own pace. Does the laundry get put away perfectly in their drawer? Ah, no. But the point of the matter is, they are learning the skill, and in time, they will learn to perfect it. I mean c'mon, I still don't put my own laundry away nice and neat!
Instead of raising lazy, incompetent children, I have two boys learning life lessons that will carry through to adulthood. They do receive chore money, but it is not for doing the daily expected chores. It is for going above and beyond the duty and doing it with a glad heart. I didn't want to create an atmosphere where each time I asked them to do something they reached out their hand for payment. Although I occasionally hear a grunt when it is time to do chores, there is a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from them when they are done. They are seeing that while dad goes off to work and mom takes care of the household, they play an important part in the family dynamic as well. So, as I pass by my old, dusty cape, I can't help but grin. I have redefined what a Superhero Parent is for my family and I. So, let me ask you...Is your cape wearing thin? Perhaps it is time to retire it and train up the next generation.
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)