Do you do too much for your children?
The other day I was shamed for carrying my sons’ school bags.
We were dodging raindrops and were running late for school. There I was, rushing my two boys along the street, when a rain-coated elderly lady stopped me.
“They’ll never learn independence if you keep babying them like that” she exclaimed. “They are big enough to carry those bags themselves.”
“Boys help your mother and carry them yourselves.”
I paused in the rain and stammered out an excuse. It’s raining. We are running late. They sometimes carry them. Have you seen what they carry in those bags?
The excuses fell on deaf ears. She had moved on in her socked, tatty rain-coat to berate another mother for her over indulgence. My boys reluctantly took their bags and trudged on to the gate while I tried to push aside the feeling of being judged.
I felt indignant. Was I a bad mother? What had I been doing all year carrying the bags of a five and seven-year old? I didn’t realise it was a no-no.
Yes I do carry my sons’ bags to school. The fact is I carry them nearly every day.
I get their clothes out for them too and pack their lunchboxes.
I often, even, put their shoes on them. To be totally truthful on many days if you peeked in my window you would even see me physically putting my kindergarten son’s school top over his head.
Yes, I know its overparenting.
Yes, they could all probably do it for themselves but sometimes I just have to get out the door.
You know what I mean?
We hear so much these days about parenting techniques - the helicopter parents, the snowplough parents. About how we are breeding a generation of narcassists with “learned helplessness”.
Back when we were kids they would have just said spoilt.
You know I know all of this. I write about it on a daily basis. I know that carrying my son’s backpack for him isn’t teaching him self-sufficiency and yet the fact is we simply need to get to school.
If I don’t lay out the clothes or pack the bag, or put on the shoes, or carry the damn bag then I’m the one left nagging, and pleading, and cajoling and eventually yelling at my kids.