Parents must sometimes stand back. This is an image of deflated balloons.

Sometimes Love Doesn’t

I’m reading a great book called “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Bob outlines how to love people through what you do, not what you say. As a Christian, this hits home because, let’s face it, throughout history Christians’ words don’t match up to their actions.

I also think that part of the reason this message is interesting to me, is because like many parents, I am a “doer”. I have a tendency to want to be involved, and “fix” things. Admittedly, I’m a recovering Helicopter Parent, and often struggle to not “do” too much as a mother.
The book really connects me to the action person in me who likes to take care of everything and serve those around me. That is how I love. BUT when it comes to children and teens, this is not a good quality, because as Jim Fay teaches, it sends the message that my children can’t make it in life without me. Which in turn decreases their self-concept (here’s a great self-concept product).

So what’s a mom to do?

In the video “Simple Parenting Strategies for raising great kids in complicated times” by Jim and Charles Fay, Charles outlines when it is OK to rescue in two circumstances:
  1. When the situation is dangerous. Be careful here when you are evaluating the danger. Many recovering helicopter parents like myself, will twist the assessment of the danger – “If he doesn’t turn in his math assignment, he will be living on the streets.” That’s a little far fetched right? Because actually if he experiences the natural consequences (poor grade, etc…) he will learn from the mistake and have a better chance of not living on the streets. A real danger is more in line with – when a child is young, you simply don’t let the natural consequences of running into the street happen.
  2. When your child/teen/ young adult is acting responsibility.  IF your child is being responsible with remembering their homework, but forgets it once in a great while, you CAN bring it to them at school. IF your young adult is doing well in college, not using drugs, has a job AND is respectful to you, etc… let them live with you or help them buy a car, etc.
In the same video Charles outlines two reasons NEVER to rescue a child, teen, or young adult:
  1. If they are irresponsible in THEIR life.
  2. If the child demands you help them.
So the book “Love Does” is great! But I think there are times when “Love Doesn’t”
Sometimes as parents we have to step back and allow our kids to experience the hard consequences of life, and as a result they learn they are capable! The worst message we can send is “you can’t make it in life without me.”
Also, remember how you communicate while stepping back is important! Be sure to use a lot of empathy, with “I” statements and choices such as, “This is hard, I need you to move out, it feels to me that is time. What works best for you to move by the end of the week or the end of the month?”
How can you let Love “do”, by NOT DOING this week?

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