Christian Parenting: Back to School Guide for Worried Parents
From the Christian Parenting Corner
by Sylvia Cochran
Are you a worried parent? Are you afraid that your child may suffer from being teased by classmates or fail under the increased pressure of more difficult assignments? If so, you might be tempted to jump into action. Don’t. Here’s why.
The Worried Parent’s Mind
Today’s parents have plenty to worry about. A quick perusal of the evening news shows that there is a good reason for parents to keep a watchful eye on the neighborhood, the child’s acquaintances, and sometimes also the teachers. These are reasonable worries that should express themselves in enhanced supervision, a genuine interest in the child’s friends, and also a well-oiled carpool to get the kids to and from school.
The adverse effects of worried parents come into play when mom and/or dad find they are incapable of allowing junior to experience the sting of failure, the pain of rejection, and sometimes also the consequence of procrastination. If you have ever helped your child with a project (due the next day) and found yourself doing most of the work, but continued to press on, you are a worried parent.
What Makes a Worried Parent Tick?
If you are a worried parent, you might have been on the receiving end of failing grades, belittling by teachers or parents, and you might even remember the pain of being made fun of by your classmates. In turn, you want to spare your child this supposed trauma. Unfortunately, rather than protecting junior from these decidedly unpleasant events, you tell your child – without words – that they are incapable of handling childhood’s basic activities without your input and hands-on help.
Your child will gradually shy back from taking calculated risks, and instead, begin to completely depend on you. This is a dangerous juncture because you are no longer the parent who is protecting a child, but instead, you are allowing your child to feed your most basic desire of being needed. This has all the makings of an unhealthy parent-child relationship.
Why Worried Parents Must Stop Worrying About the Mundane
Do keep worrying about the potential child predator and teach your child street safety. These are bona fide worries every parent should carefully foster. At the same time, lose the worries about your child’s inability to handle failure and smalltime adversity. Remember: in school, the child learns not only to succeed, but also to fail and how to deal with bad grades, unpleasant classmates, and blatantly biased teachers. Make sure your child knows that you are always there with an open ear and advice – if asked.
While in early elementary school you still need to actively guide your child on how to deal with a bad grade and what lessons to derive from the schoolyard problems; toward the end of elementary school, the child should have a good understanding that bad grades require more serious studying and that the schoolyard politics may be avoided easily by choosing her/his friends wisely.
What Happens if Parents Keep on Worrying?
If you insist on worrying about your child’s inability to handle simple conflict and failure, you will end up with a child who becomes afraid of everything. Over time, your child expects you to take care of virtually all aspects of her/his life. S/He becomes incapable of taking responsibility unless told specifically what to do. This leads to a negative self-image and of course an underlying ingratitude to you, the parent, who is going to be blamed for whatever might be going wrong in the child’s life.
What Does the Bible Say About Worried Parents?
James 1:2-5 reminds worriers that adversity and trouble are great ways of growing, building endurance, and eventually developing a strong character that is ready to handle whatever life throws at it.
So, when the school project is due tomorrow, offer your help; as soon as junior stops working, so do you. Lend a help with specific tasks under your child’s supervision, but do not take over the project. If this means a bad grade but a great learning experience with respect to procrastination and good study habits, is this not a lesson well learned for a relatively small price tag?
For more help with this topic, please check out the writer’s book review of “Parenting with Love and Logic.”
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