"What You Have Taught Them to Do for Themselves..."

"It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings."  Ann Landers

"It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings."  Ann Landers

I'm sure you have at least heard of Ann Landers, even if you are too young to have read her columns...in the opinion of many, she was a wise woman!  I remember reading the newspaper with my own mother when I was a teenager, and asking her what certain things meant in Ms. Lander's articles, why someone would ask such a question and how that translated into my own mom's life and mothering.  Some of the questions seemed silly to me at the time.  Some were very pertinent and hit a little too close to home. Many of her answers seemed pretty common sense, like "Duh!"  Ann Landers and Miss Manners were both very popular back "in the day"!

Ann Landers was quoted as saying, "It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings."  Wow, that's a tough one. As I wrote, when I shared a Huffington Post article earlier today on Facebook with that particular quote, this specific discipline is easier said than done.  As moms, it can be so much simpler to just "do" for our children than to teach them to do for themselves.

So often, it takes much more time, not to mention the inevitable push back we get, to teach our kids to do things for themselves that they should learn to do.  Note that the word "should" is not a subjective term here... there are definitely things to be learned in this life that are critical for becoming (as Ann Landers put it) "successful human beings."  It's not easy holding the line as a parent and saying, "No, you need to learn this.  Do it yourself!"  whether "it" refers to homework, chores, skills, everyday help around the house or "life" before they are forced out into the real world.

It becomes really difficult, especially when our children arrive at young adulthood, if they have gotten used to being waited on, not having to pitch in, not pulling their share of the load, not giving financially, emotionally or physically towards the running of the house and the business of daily living.  When we don't require their help and receive only minimal assistance with finances, chores, grocery shopping or cooking as they get older, they grow up with a skewed sense of what life is going to be like in the "real" world once they leave our cozy "nest".  And we mustn't kid ourselves: our nest is cozy compared to what they may face "out there".  Unfortunately, if we do it all, they never learn to step up or even to notice the things that need doing and do them without being asked, begged, cajoled or sent on a guilt trip!

The other way to look at this is to see how their lifestyle habits will be viewed and/or accepted by potential spouses down the road. If someone has been allowed to think only of themselves and not consider the impact or lack of one that their help around the house will have on the others living there, they will not be easy to live with as a spouse.  Quite honestly (and don't get mad at me for bringing this up, but I have decided to write/blog and tell it like it is!)  they will last longer in a relationship if they learn to step up and chip in.  Their marital relationship will survive if they are role modeling the kind of sacrificial love and service that make the home environment a peaceful haven. On the other hand, their relationships will suffer as a result of self-centered behavior and lack of initiative.  Am I making sense?

So the long and short of it is this: in order to save our own sanity as moms, and to (at the same time) give our children the tools to be "successful human beings", we MUST teach them to do for themselves! They must learn to do their own laundry, their own cooking, their own cleaning up after themselves, keeping their rooms neat, shopping and budgeting, paying for their own cars and insurance, all those things that they will eventually need to know when they are on their own. 

Or they will struggle...guaranteed!

That's the bad news...the good news is: it's never too late to start teaching them!


For another wonderful article that overlaps with this subject, please go to this link:         (huff.to/1gP5KDI) to read the post by Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis from March 4, 2014!  She speaks of short term pain to achieve long term gain, and allowing our children to experience failure, inconveniences, disappointments, and frustrations and learn from them to be better people later in life.  She speaks of the importance of looking long term at who we want our children to be at 25, 30 or 40 years of age...with experiences under their belts to get them through life.  This is where our two posts overlap I think.