Many people (and some wacky parenting “experts”) would say that is our job as parents to raise happy, intelligent children. After having raised 4, and helping with 8 grandkids, and all the reading I did as they were all growing up, I have to strongly disagree.
Actually, if you think your job is to raise happy children, you will probably end up frazzled, stressed and miserable. See: 10 steps to a happier mama
And your kids will very likely be brats.
After coming out on the other side, and not unscathed, I believe instead that our job as parents is to raise mature, responsible, well-rounded adults. And you typically would not get a mature well-rounded responsible adult if your daily goal was to make sure your child is happy.
While a happy child would be nice, children need to learn how to live in a real world. They need to learn that life is demanding and hard, and definitely not always fair.
10 ways to not raise a brat:
- Don’t call them more than once in the morning to wake up for school. Or make them set their own alarm clock.
- Stop doing their laundry.
- Make them clean up behind themselves or confiscate their stuff.
- Expect them to help get dinner on the table, and to clean up afterwards.
- Don’t buy them a “treat” every time you go shopping, etc.
- Teach them how to be responsible for their own school work and make them be accountable.
- Don’t allow or reward whining by giving in.
- As often as possible, allow natural consequences to happen. Don’t intervene. They can be some of the best teachers.
- Teach them to be independent at an early age, and continue to let them mature into further independence.
- While you should love your child, and let them know you are there for them as they grow, do not baby them. At age 3 or age 13. That makes for an awful 21 year old who feels entitled to everything and won’t get a job or consider moving out and being responsible for themselves.
Obviously this needs to be age relevant. I am not suggesting that you expect a 4 year old to do his laundry. However, he can learn to fix his own peanut butter & jelly sandwich, empty wastebaskets or help you sort the laundry.
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I have had more of a tendency to baby my youngest (go figure) and now that she is out on her own, she is having to learn some things the hard way because of my sheltering. I am still there for her, and I will guide her, but I refuse to jump in and always save the day (most of the time).
My oldest daughter has 6 children and she has worked hard to teach her children to be independent from a young age. And she has also taught the older ones to help the younger ones. On one hand, it makes for a little more chaos in their home, but on the other, my daughter is not trying to do everything herself, and her kids are learning to be responsible and think more like a maturing adult would, and not an impetuous teenager.
So, what shall it be? A “happy kid”, or a well-rounded adult?
Edited: Came across a GREAT book on this subject! Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement