For Parents: Emotional Support v Emotional Indulgence

Maturity, as many of you already know, is the main aim Craig and I have for our children. We define maturity as having all the aspects that Daniel Goleman identified as Emotional Intelligence: persistence; delayed gratification; planning; organisation; empathy; impulse control; social deftness; motivation and so on.

Of course, maturity emerges over many years and comes in waves – some days there is clear evidence of maturity on other days the boys revert to the less considered behaviours of the immature. For two-year old Mr Butterfly it’s as simple as stopping himself when we’ve said, No. For six-year old Mr Owl, being inclusive of others in his play at kindergarten shows a degree of maturity and an example for nine-year old Mr Hare would be those days when he can organise all of this equipment for the next day at school, without fuss.

One key thing we can do in order to parent our children into maturity is to help them manage when things don’t go their way. That means we don’t do the work for them, but we give them the skills to manage for themselves. If necessary, we would go with them to deal with an adversity or uncomfortable situation but, again, we wouldn’t be the ones doing the work.

‘When things don’t go their way’ can mean anything from friends not cooperating, to having do something they don’t want to do, to dealing with the word ‘No’, to falling over and hurting themselves, to coping when we won’t buy them stuff on demand, to facing-up to other people when they’re in the wrong, to paying of their own debt and so on.

It begins with Boring Cuddles (Quick Way to Stop Children Fussing.) – where a hurt baby/child is held but not shuusshed or fussed over. It continues with being firm about behaviours which are unacceptable and not using bribery and rewards to illicit appropriate behaviours. But it also means we are generous with hugs and positive eye-contact, and listening with our full attention when they speak to us. It means that we will make tough decisions (like having no electronics, or banning some children from our home, or being firm about bedtimes, or not having junk food in the house) when we can see that there is a negative effect on the boys, and we will enforce manners and other social niceties. All. The. Time.

Mr Hare is nine and now taking more responsibility for making his own tough decisions. We talk about making tough choices a lot: which children he is playing with when he gets into trouble at school; how to earn some money to pay off a $100 debt; four reasons why he shouldn’t swear at school; and we are considering allowing him a week to monitor his own electronic exposure and reactions for a week or so over our next summer break (Dec/Jan).

The importance of managing when things don’t go our own way becomes clear when we meet adults who cannot do this for themselves. It is a great tragedy of our wealthy western society that we have bred so many 30 and even 40/50 year olds who still think they are owed a life-style with little effort; adults who will say things aren’t fair yet not get off their chuffs and do something about their situation; or who bankrupt their elderly parents.

Managing when things don’t go according to our dreams/plans/expectations is a core factor in maturity, and we can help our children to develop it – we just can’t ‘do their push-ups for them’.

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :) )

About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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9 Responses to For Parents: Emotional Support v Emotional Indulgence

  1. Agree, agree, agree. I’m doing a great bit a listening to other people and it’s shocking. They want the big house, the cars, everything and they use a credit card for groceries. They think it is not possible to fit a family of 6 in a 1000 sf home, when I know of a larger family living out of an RV toy hauler by choice! And I shouldn’t get started on the older “child” bankrupting parents. 😦 It’s really unbelievable and you just can’t guess which child will do it. The recent events have made me wonder just how to raise my boys right, and it’s not always clear.

    • It’s difficult to watch isn’t it, Cori? From what I’ve seen it’s the child who did need extra help from their parents when they were young (illness, bullying, accidents, highly-sensitive), but the parents didn’t know when to stop helping or where to put the boundaries between emotional support and unacceptable behaviours. It’s something I’m probably over vigilant about with our boys – but I’d just hate them to grow up with a dependency/entitlement mentality.

  2. Hi kloppenmom – Unrelated to the post and with no Email contact button (that I could find) on your home page, I leave this comment here; feel free to delete once read if you wish. Certain bloggers/regular readers become like a blogger family so that when they disappear (at my blog), their absence is noticed. I like to end those certain reader relationships with a thank you and a farewell and so to you I say both. Thank you for your time as a regular reader and commenter and for your contributions to the blogosphere. I wish you all the best in raising your children well and in life.

    In closing, I leave you with the words (which surely are not new to you) of Kahlil Gibran; be well, you all.

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

    • Thanks for stopping-by allycat…and for the poem. I am still struggling with SAD, but fully intend to be back to my old ways of visiting and commenting within the next month or so. Look forward to catching up with all of your news then. 🙂

  3. Laura says:

    When things don’t go according to our plans, we suffer much less if we’ve learned early on to pick ourselves up and move along with a cheery heart and hopeful outlook. So much of today’s popular parenting style unintentionally blocks this sort of capability. Sadly, the small disappointments parents try to stave off for their kids lead to much larger disappointments later. Great post Karyn.

  4. Yulia says:

    Sometime we cannot accept the reality that everything doesn’t go as our plan. In fact, we have to learn to accept it and our children will learn from us 🙂

    Love this post, Karyn

    When you have time, please visit my blog and I would be more than happy if you are willing to share your thought there 🙂

    • I would love to come and visit your blog Yulia, but I am still not managing fully yet. My SAD has been very bad this year and I can only hope that I will be back to my previous level of visiting and commenting soon. Thanks for your continued support, it is appreciated. 🙂

      • Yulia says:

        That’s ok, Karyn, don’t worry. Hope you will recover soon. I will always drop by your blog because I like to read your writing 🙂

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