In our world we often hear about two kinds of
parents - Helicopter Enabler or Tough Lover. It's confusing and
it's unsettling that these two labels get tossed around easily from
one judgmental mother to the next.
Today on Facebook, an old classmate of mine posted
how proud she was to have used tough love on her elementary
school-aged daughter, leaving her to her own devices when a book
was left at home, again. The mom refused
to 'enable' and bring the book to school for her, insisting she was
teaching her daughter to become responsible.
A conversation ensued. Some moms on one side,
firmly agreeing with the tactic to let her learn to be responsible
on her own. Others jumping to attack, insisting that enabling a
younger child who has a dual-curriculum in school by bringing her a
forgotten book now and again was only loving parenting. One mom,
who has an older child, insisted that her daughter still grew up to
become responsible - even though she so-called "enabled" her. I
chimed in that if the forgetfulness happens often, perhaps this was
an issue of Executive Functioning, something I've become quite
familiar with at home.
I tried tough love when my son was little. He lost
jackets. In his 17 years thus far I think we have gone through at
least two coats a season. I resorted to buying sale-priced, ugly
coats so that if they were lost I wouldn't be too sad.
Then, he moved on to homework assignments.
Completed assignments sat marinating on his desk - leaving him
without a grade and looking quite irresponsible. We got angry. As
parents we felt we had done our best to teach him responsibility
and here he was failing, daily. We punished, we ignored phone calls
to bring things in. Nothing changed. That was when I decided
perhaps there was something wrong.
At around eight years old we took him to a physical
therapist for some fine motor skill issues because the school had
recommended he learn to cut better for his age. She suggested that
perhaps he had Executive Functioning issues. Once we researched
this and implemented some easy changes into his routine, things
I would love to say that at 17 he is the epitome of
responsibility. He's not. But, he has so vastly improved that I
only bought ONE jacket last season and nearly all of his completed
homework assignments were handed in.
If I had continued on my tough love route I would
have alienated my child. I would have made him feel like a failure.
Not every child fits in a box. In fact, I would venture to say NO
child fits in a box. It's not enabling to help them find their
path. It's not being a helicopter parent to bring a forgotten book
to school a few times and recognize if its happening a lot perhaps
its time to implement some changes or find out
To find our more about Executive Functioning to
learn some simple tools any
'responsibly-challenged' child can use visit:
Sara Kutliroff. Web content writer, carpool chauffeur and grocery shopper by day, homework mom and chef extraordinaire by night. Wife to Daniel. Survivor of 4 kids growing too quickly in college, high school, middle school and elementary.
See more of Sara's stories here.
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