Are we doing our children a disservice?

being a momLast week when Cady was sick, David took her to the doctor and then to Target to get her prescriptions filled. While they were in the store, she told David that she needed to go to the bathroom. He walked her to the ladies room and waited outside for her to complete her business.

What he didn’t know at the time was that her “business” was vomiting. Her stomach was bothering her and she went to the restroom to puke. By herself. Alone. She’s seven years old. I don’t blame him at all because he had no idea what was going on. She came out of the restroom and he made sure she was okay and got her something to drink.

I will admit that I did a little momma freak out when I found out about this. I was just shocked that she went into the restroom and took care of this business all by herself. I was also a little perturbed that NONE of the women in the restroom (she said it was full) offered to help her or asked if she okay.

I told her that next time (Oh Lord I hope this never happens again) she should tell her dad so he can go in the family restroom with her and help her. I’m not sure how he can help her, but at least she wouldn’t be alone.

Then I paused and really started thinking about what happened. On her own she went to the restroom, took care of her business all by herself, cleaned herself up, and then came out to tell her dad what happened and asked for a drink. Alone. Independent. I suddenly became very proud of my seven year old instead of very worried that she had to go through this “ordeal” by herself. She faced the problem and she handled it.

Isn’t that what we all want as parents? Shouldn’t it be our goal to teach our children how to be independent?

The reason for all of this deep thinking? Yesterday morning I was watching the news and they were running a story about Justin Bieber doing something stupid on Twitter. The news anchor laughed it off as “oh he’s just a teenager.” But wait a minute… he is 18. Technically still a teenager, but also a legal adult. We are talking about a teenager that has been making decisions about his music career since he was 12. Not exactly your normal teenager.

Plus, are we doing our children a disservice by not expecting them to be adults when they reach 18? At 18 I was married and living on my own with my husband. At 18 you can join the military and be sent to war. Do you really want to think about the young men and women defending our country as “just teenagers”? I personally believe they deserve more respect than that.

Here’s the thing… Young people are going to make stupid mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my share. But what is so great about those mistakes is that we LEARN from them. If we are constantly trying to step in and do for our kids or if we continuously make excuses for their behavior they are never going to learn.

Wisdom comes with age, and the price of wisdom is failure. I believe that by not letting our children fail, or by making excuses for them we are doing them a total disservice.


  1. Kristi Baumbach says

    I love this post. I also fully agree! You are raising a wonderful child to be a responsible and independent adult…..and that time will be here way before you realize it! My oldest if 14 and going to high school next year. I’m a little freaked out but she is excited beyond belief. She’s ready for the next steps and I’ll catch up soon enough! I have noticed more and more parents who hover over their kids and don’t let them do the things they are capable of. My parenting philosophy is to let kids do what they can so they learn. If they are capable of making their own lunch for example, why should I make it for them? Won’t they be more likely to eat what they went to the effort to put in there? Yes, I think so. If you are forever stepping in to re-do or do too much for your child the message they get is “I can’t” or “I’m not capable”. I would never say that to a child so why show them? Better to say, “I’ll teach you” or “you can figure it out” and watch them rise to the occasion….and they will if given the chance. And then one day, I’ll get to enjoy and spoil rather than raise my grandkids! :)

  2. says

    Great words, Jennifer…love it.

    You should be proud to have such an independent and clear-thinking young adult. Things are different now than they were when we were younger and women are forced to be stronger and much more independent at a much earlier age.

    Just knowing she can handle herself at 7 is refreshing. Hell, the other day I was on the phone with my mom and my brakes started making a freakish sound. I told her to stay on the phone with me because I didn’t want to be alone while I’ll pulled into a parking lot to see if the noise would stop.

    I’m 43. Cady is 7.

    Her being so self-sufficient is one way she’s thanking you for making her the profound woman she is destined to be.
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    • says

      Hey, I’m 40 and I would have made David go to the family bathroom with me if I had been the one that got sick in the store. For real. I’m amazed that she handled herself so well.

  3. says

    I have often said “we are not raising CHILDREN. we are raising FUTURE ADULTS.” I think one of our biggest jobs is to encourage their independence and many of us drop the ball, some more so than others. I think it’s great that your daughter took care of all of that by herself. It shows she has confidence.
    I also think that part of kids’ & teenagers’ jobs is to screw up. I tell my kids, life is not about NOT screwing up. It’s about how you handle those mistakes and how you learn from them. (and I’m also learning that this extends far into adulthood….yeah, I’m looking in the mirror!)
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    • says

      I love that part about raising future adults. That is dead on. I can’t even imagine what the next generation is going to be like when it is time for them to enter the work force.

      • says

        Great job! To you and to Cady! And you said in the comments above, ” I can’t even imagine what the next generation is going to be like when it is time for them to enter the workforce.” My response is that they already have. The stories I am hearing (and things I am seeing around base, in the spouse’s club and on spouse Facebook pages) from the new airmen and their wives is astounding. My husband has had quite a few airmen lately kicked out of the service for not maintaining the health standards. In short, they can’t pass the yearly PT test. When you don’t pass, they send you to counseling, make you keep a food journal, log in time at the gym, etc… and you get four tries before they kick you out. DJ has to tell them when they fail their third time that it is really ridiculous that it got that far and that they really need to take this seriously because the Air Force is pretty much already writing up their discharge paperwork and waiting for them to fail that fourth time. He said that almost never take it seriously, and then when they fail and receive their notice that they will be discharged within 30 days- they are shocked and suddenly freak out because they have a wife and family and no job on the outside. DJ has to constantly counsel them and tell them that the Air Force does not owe them a job.. they owe the Air Force for keeping them in a job and they have to stay up to standard. It is very sad and very astounding the “entitlement” these kids feel toward jobs.

  4. says

    I would have felt the same way about my child going into the bathroom by herself while sick. Poor baby. But yeah, I can see how you were also proud that she handled it with grace. :)

    I don’t think we should be making excuses for 18-year old’s at all. But, as a society we seem to make excuses for people of ALL ages. I just feel that it has become that way – that many people do not take full responsibility for their actions these days, always wanting to blame others. Not trying to be “Debbie Downer”, just saying…

    And I’m totally in shock that Justin Bieber is that age.
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    • says

      I was shocked no one offered to help her. It wouldn’t matter to me if it were my kid, your kid or a a stranger’s kid. I’m just too much of a momma to not help. You know?

      I agree about society making excuses. Sometimes I feel like our parents were the last generation to teach responsibility.

      • Kristi Baumbach says

        Well, obviously some of us are trying so maybe there is hope after all!

        Reminds me of a situation last week. My youngest is 10 and a half and very responsible. She had a girl scout meeting at the elementary school at 6 pm. Her and her friend (also at the GS meeting) had Volleyball practice that started at 7 that was directly across a residential street at the Middle School gym. The other mom and I (both needed to go to the HEB around the corner) decided it would be fine if they left the GS meeting together, crossed the residential street at a 4 way stop sign and walked to the MS gym directly across the street (in a very safe neighborhood they are familiar with and still very daylight). Both girls were perfectly comfortable with the solution and this meant we could grocery shop without being crazy fast or worried about long lines. We felt it kind of silly we would have to hurry back and escort them across the street when they could walk themselves in a minute. The coaches are always in the gym early and are friends of ours. The GS leader almost didn’t let them do it. Really? They could SEE the gym door from the classroom door. They were excited we trusted them to do it and they were together. I was done shopping and arrived at VB practice about 7:15 and saw two very proud girls enjoying hitting the ball with their friends. When I was 10 I frequently walked home almost 2 miles from school sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend because that was more fun than the stinky old bus.

        Trusting your kids to do what they are capable of doing is a gift that will have a million pay backs later.

        You should read the book Free Range Kids. You can check out their FB at Highly recommend this to ALL parents….such a wonderful, freeing, guilt and fear reducing book. Love, love, love it.

  5. says

    Oh I love this post (also I hope she is felling better:(( ). I love that she was so independent and think we need to nurture more of this independence rather than the opposite that seems to be the norm in our current society. Love this message.
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    • says

      She is feeling better. Thanks.

      She is SO independent (at some things). She is constantly reminding me that she is not a baby.

  6. says

    We just decided a day ago to make the kids start doing things for themselves.

    So far….so good!

    Yes, they need to learn to take care of themselves and not depend on others.
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  7. says

    I agree with you on so many levels…I think my Sweetpea (Lily) is about the same age as your daughter. I would be a little freaked out at first too, but I do think ultimately it’s a good thing for them to become more independent.

    I’ve had a blog post on a similar subject floating around in my head since dinner time and I think now I have to go write it :-)

    P.S. I am also disturbed that no one asked her if she was ok; I would not have been able to refrain from helping her.
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  8. says

    I so agree with you. I want my children to be strong and independent young adults willing to take responsibility for their actions.

    I never write notes for them to get out of homework or for extensions – that is all on them.

    At our centers we have a large workforce of twenty- somethings. A lot of these 20 somethings still live at home – which makes sense because of the economy. What doesn’t make sense is that when they feel the need to call in sick they have their Mom call in sick for them! Yes a 25 year old has Mom call in. It got so bad we had to write a policy about it!

    You can guarantee that I will not be calling my child in sick when he/she is 25. Heaven help me.

    I love the name Cady. :)

    • says

      Yeah, I don’t mind helping my kids out, but I shouldn’t have to call in sick for them when they are that old. That’s just ridiculous.

  9. says

    I totally missed that you used her real name, because I know her real name. It’s funny you just did this, because I’ve been tossing around the idea of giving up the nicknames. I feel like I want to connect more with my readers, and I think that would help.

    Anyway, yes, I’ve noticed the trend you posted about. I think it’s my job to do everything I can to raise my kids so that they are ready to make responsible decisions when they turn 18. However, I will always consider them “just a teenager” when they are 18. I don’t really know how to adequately explain it, other than, the “parent” in me knows I need to get them ready for adulthood, but the “mama” in me says they will be my baby forever.
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    • says

      Yeah, I think there is a difference between thinking that the are OUR baby and thinking that they ARE a baby. I’m sure my mom still feels that way about me, but the difference is in the actions.

  10. says

    It sucks that Cady was sick and I’m glad she’s better.

    I’ve always had independent kids, it was more their genetic personality traits than my parenting, but my parenting style is to let them do for themselves. Obviously, there are times when they need me more but I try to remember to use everything as a life lesson.

    That being said, my kids are spoiled rotten, and sometimes pretend to be incapable of handling something that I know they can handle.

    I have a 19 year old son. He is what I call a man-child. He is not an adult in the real sense of the word. I get so tired of people in our life saying “well, he’s grown” uhmmm no, he isn’t, he is adult aged according to society, but he’s immature and still child like in many ways. People’s brains are not fully developed until they are in their mid-20’s and men mature much slower than women. If he were “grown” he would be able to financially support himself, he would have the mental maturity to handle situations, but he can’t and he’s not. He is a fine young man, who does stupid things, and makes mistakes, and I try to teach him from those mistakes.

    I am one of those people that has always been an adult, from the time I was a small child. I left home at 16, worked, went to school, had a baby at 18, got married at 21, had another baby at 22, and here I am, nearly 40, still being an adult. I realize that I am the exception to the rule for the most part and I do not expect everyone to be like I was.

    All that being said, yes, I believe it’s truly great that Cady is becoming more independent. I think you have a wonderful relationship with her, based on trust and honesty and love. It’s a testament to you and your husband’s parenting that she is as great as she is.

    Also, I say very often that the traits I love most about my kids are the traits that are the absolute hardest to parent.

    • says

      Cady does that whole pretending thing at seven. I have to sometimes make her take the steps by telling her that if she wants to do the fun big girl things then she has to do the not so fun big things too.

    • says

      I had to be really independent at a really young age. Part of me doesn’t want that for my kids, but another part sees the value in it.

  11. says

    I’ve started noticing myself step back and say, right when I go to help, she is 11, she is 8, or he is 2 and can do this her/himself. I think the problem with celebrity teens is they have not experienced a traditional childhood and their “acting out” or inappropriate behavior comes when they “should” be more adult. I don’t think we can equate 18 yr old Justin Bieber w/an 18 yr old who has volunteered to fight for our country. Their maturity levels, to me, may be on vastly different plains. The serviceman may actually be an adult whereas Bieber is still growing up.

    I am so proud of Cady for doing what she needed to do, that she did so with such independence and strength. You must know that is a credit to how you have been raising her. I am bothered, though, that no woman offered to help her; she is still only 7. A simple, are you OK or is your mom or dad with you would have been sufficient. I’m more concerned about the blind eye we tend to give situations that warrant our action.
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  12. says

    I agree 100%. I think coming to that realization, that our children must be independent and make their own mistakes in order to learn and grow, is one of the hardest to deal with. Instinctively, as you showed in your post, you want to protect them. As parents we can see the challenge or problem coming before our children do and we know how to avoid it. We know, because we’ve been there. It is so hard to let them go there alone and figure it out for themselves!

    You are blessed to have such a beautiful, independent daughter. Well done.
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  13. Anonymous says

    I am married to a man who was never taught independence and worse yet how to handle disappointment. His parents fixed everything that went wrong. When he failed a class his senior year in college i was shocked at his level of despair and his inability to come up with a solution. He was never taught even to put the toilet seat lid down. In fact when I visit his parents house now his mother still gets up out of her chair after a man uses the bathroom and announces that she is going to put the toilet seat down so no girls fall in. Their other parenting philosophy was to make everything exactly even for my husband and his brother. The result: two brothers who ended up with very different income levels and jobs (of course!) who don’t speak to each other. Even more ridiculous – their mother currently makes plans for them. My in-laws try to do everything for my girls in a similar way. I am so thankful that my parents taught me independence. I am passing it along to my girls. Everything in life does not work out evenly, and trusting our kids to make decisions for themselves shows love, instead of making them so dependent that they seemingly can’t live without you. Because one day they will have to live without you, and you wouldn’t want their future spouse posting about your parenting techniques :)

  14. Joanna says

    When I was 13, I went to boarding school. In another country. My mother dropped me off the first time. At the end of semester, a bus took overseas students from the school to the airport and dropped us at the door of the appropriate terminal for our airline. Students were responsible for getting checked in, through security and to their gate on time. No escorts to the gate for anyone over 12. I realise that was a LONG time ago now and today is a different world, but I fully expect my daughter to be capable of the same by that age, if required. Sure there are “creepy, crazy people” out there, but security is tighter and she will have more resources at her disposal, such as smart phones etc. It seems society’s expectations of kids are getting lower instead of higher, despite the fact that they have more to work with. I was brought up to be independent, aware of myself and surroundings and “not to talk to strangers”. I went a lot of places and did a lot of stuff and survived it all based on that. Sadly, it is entirely possible that nobody offered to help Cady or even ask if she was okay because everyone was afraid of looking like a “creepy, crazy person”. I think she did a great job of handling herself but yes, I would have at least asked if she was okay.

  15. ShBorchers says

    She knew how to handle herself because you have raised her in an environment where she felt confident to do so. Good job, mom & dad! In a sane parenting world, that would be the end of the discussion. That no one offered to help is more a reflection of the fact your husband did not take her to the men’s room with him or go into the women’s with her (and the sad societal reasons why THAT is so) than a commentary on people generally.

  16. says

    I love this post (so much) and it’s so true- we must let them fall when we can be there to help them up.

    (Parenting ourselves out of a job is HARD work for our hearts, isn’t it?)

    Fantastic, thoughtful post, you!
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  17. says

    Such a big girl to be able to handle that all on her own!

    I do think kids need to be expected to show responsibility – especially when we are talking about young adults. My mil STILL makes excuses for my bil by saying he’s still growing up… um, he’s 26! That’s not a baby any more.
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  18. says

    Yes, I really think we are all doing that! Kids can do amazing things by themselves, and we have to let them mess up to learn how to do it the right way. I’m proud of your daughter, too! Also…have to admit I kinda love her name :)
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