As a mom, I spent many years on the Crazy Train. I’ll bet you’ve spent awhile there, too. Maybe you’re riding around on it right now.
Get off, Mom! It’s time to get off the Crazy Train.
Almost every mother I talk to wonders whether or not she is parenting well enough. Her insecurity stems from this ride she’s taking. The Crazy Train takes us to a far away and “most excellent” place. Our peers ride alongside—but that’s not all.
A parallel track runs beside us with our kids aboard. Their train picks up speed just like ours does. And this part may surprise you—none of them wants to be on it but they are. Not because their friends are, but because we tell them they must be.
Every parent lives with some anxiety about their parenting, worrying if they are doing a good enough job. The antidote to our worry is to get our kids busy: sign them up for team sports, dance classes, or tutoring sessions to help them get better grades.
We believe that busyness is the key to success. But the problem is, it doesn’t relieve the angst we harbor.
IF GETTING OUR KIDS TO PERFORM BETTER REALLY MADE US ALL HAPPIER, WOULDN’T WE BE?
Here’s the problem. We have crafted a modern paradigm for raising good kids.
We believe that parenting well means accomplishing these goals:
our kids should be successful
our kids should be happy
we should always be boosting their self-esteem
they should always run with a “solid” peer group
This all sounds good, but when you unravel it, we see that it makes our kids more miserable than happy.
» We want our kids to be successful.
We’re convinced that success hinges on decisions we make just as our babies begin to crawl. We enroll them in good preschools, kindergarten (at just the “right” age), and the best high school we can afford, so that they can get into a great college. So what if they then graduate, get a good job, and make a lot of money—then what?
» We want them to be happy.
We insure this by avoiding conflict, arguments and the word “no.” If we argue or lay down strong rules, we fear that our kids will disengage and we will lose them. So, we let them run the show.
» We should always be boosting their self-esteem.
When it comes to building our kids’ self-image, self-awareness, and self-confidence, we find anything that they are good at, spend money to get them better at it, and traipse around the country to clap on the sidelines.
» And keeping them plugged in with “like-minded” peers?
We send mixed messages to our kids by encouraging them to “fit in” with friends who dress, talk, and act just like them, but then tell them to stand up, “be different,” and say “no” if these same peers pressure them to drink or do bad stuff.
OUR PARENTING DECISIONS ARE BASED UPON OUR FEARS.
So, parents, we must drill down to find our motives for our behaviors. Why do we do all of the above? Is it really because we believe that making a lot of money in the end leads to success, that not parenting makes kids happy, or that cheering on the sidelines really boosts their self-esteem? I don’t think so.
Deep down, we know there’s a different answer.
We do these things because we are afraid not to.
We are afraid not to push our son on the soccer field, lest he get left behind. We are afraid not to push our kids academically because then they may look like losers, and that would feel unbearable. We are frightened to pull them out of the busyness of activities and have them spend more time with us because that’s simply not what good parents do.
I submit that great parents dump their fears and simplify life for their kids. Keep your kids home more. Talk to them. Slow down and get control of your life.
JUMP OFF THE CRAZY TRAIN.
Our kids see right through what we are doing and the good news is they, too, want more of us and less busyness.
Are you ready to own your fears and say, “Enough!”?
You do it, and I promise your kids will thank you.