So I get home from work one day last week and as I walk in the door, I trip over one of Kelly’s shoes that’s lying in front of the kitchen door. There are two pairs of Lauren’s shoes there, too, and a her salmon-colored LL Bean coat…with her full backpack still attached to it. She had walked in the door after school, flung off her shoes, dropped her lunch bag and shrugged of her coat—backpack and all.
I kick all the shoes toward the shoe racks they belong on.
How many times do I have to tell them to put their shoes on the rack?
I unload my work bags, take off my coat and start leafing through the mail pile. I can hear Dan running on the treadmill downstairs. The girls are playing with the Wii and arguing with each other about Mario leaving Luigi behind or…whatever.
I hate that Wii.
I wonder what to make for dinner as I head out to the sunroom to retrieve the backpacks so I can go through them and pull out their homework, sign their agendas, clean out their lunch bags and pack them for the next day.
As I’m running around doing everything, they are playing Super Mario Bros. and insulting each other.
Like a couple of little Princesses who just live in my house.
I think about an article I had just “Liked” on Facebook — “From Generation X to Generation Me” — about how my generation, in our attempt to be the best parents ever, are raising dependent, spoiled, entitled children who are incapable of taking care of themselves:
In contrast to our upbringing, we resolved to be a more constant presence in our children’s lives. Many of us, now as mothers, are now staying home, sacrificing career and economic prosperity to be the one to do the drop-offs and pick-ups. We read every new parenting book, determined to raise our children with all possible opportunities and advantages. By the time the children are two, they are enrolled in ballet, soccer, gymnastics, music and art class. Our kids are constantly praised for their efforts and are repeatedly told how smart, talented, beautiful and special they are.
And this is how we raised the “Me” generation.
The problem is that these children are now dependent on their parents. They have become accustomed to their moms and dads holding their hands through each major decision, and many of these young adults now call home multiple times a day for guidance. College professors are fielding phone calls from parents wanting to discuss their child’s grade on a paper. Managers complain that this generation is so unfamiliar with criticism that they are nearly impossible to train. This generation truly believes that they are exceptionally smart, talented, and beautiful, and therefore unprepared for the real world.
I was doing what I thought was right. I was taking care of my kids. I was making sure they did their homework, had a good lunch (and a snack) for the next day, signed the papers that needed signed, etc.
But, at that moment, I thought: Let ’em hang.
At 8 and 10 years old, they are more than capable of racking their own shoes, cleaning out their own lunch bags, packing their own snack for the next day, getting their homework out of their backpack, presenting me with any papers I need to sign, and basically being responsible for their own STUFF.
I’m not doing this anymore. They’ll do it or suffer the consequences.
Let ’em hang.
If you don’t pick up your coat, you will wear a dirty coat. If you don’t get out your homework and do it, you can stay in at recess and do it the next day. If you don’t pack your own snack, you can go hungry. If you don’t clean out your lunch bag and put it on the counter for me to pack, you will eat whatever crap they’re serving in the cafeteria. Period.
Let ’em hang.
I wrote a list on the whiteboard in the kitchen and I called them (and the husband) in and explained the new house order. The kids no longer play Wii while mom and dad do everything for them. They will begin taking responsibility for some of the things that need done or they can suffer the natural consequences.
That’s right, my friends, I just wiped my hands of homework.
You can, too.
Let ’em hang.
I’ll let you know how this little experiment turns out. Right now, it’s kinda stupid because we keep reminding them to check the list and do the list and asking them if they packed their snack and blah, blah, blah….nagging them into being more responsible.
Next week, the reminders stop. No more nagging. No more reminding. No more begging.
Just natural consequences.