How to teach children responsibility and sacrifice? How to help them to be autonomous, to pursue a goal, to commit to something, in a lasting way?
Too often it is thought that loving a child means paving the way for them, making the path of life as easy as possible for them.
A parent’s job is to help and support, but that does not mean he or she has the right to “replace” the child.
I think of that mom who doesn’t ask her son, now in his 20s, for help even to carry a crate of water so he doesn’t get tired and who still makes his bed, cleans his room, and cooks for him.
I think of that dad who sees his own son as a failure because he does not study, does not work (or if he does work he squanders what he earns), yet he continues to support him, to put money on his account, without helping him grow.
Parental responsibility in educating their children
What is communicated to children when they are relieved of all burdens? How does it affect their view of life if everything is served to them on a silver platter?
When you treat your children as “unable to struggle”—even if they are not—you communicate the wrong message to them: “You can be comfortable, there will always be someone else who will provide for you.”
It is, instead, important to stimulate children, give them a taste of self-efficacy and help them develop autonomy. An old adage states, “Every extra year of age always brings a few more achievements but also a few more responsibilities.” New freedoms must be matched by new burdens. If only the freedom to have new pleasurable experiences grows, without responsibility also growing, one will forever remain an ungrown child doing “grown-up things.”
An aid in the empowerment of children can be the pursuit of a summer or afternoon job, within the constraints of school hours and duties. Many people are against this, because it is thought that the boy is entitled to “enjoy life,” yet, devoting oneself to something useful for someone else helps oneself first of all—to decentralize, to know one’s gifts, to understand how to put one’s talents to use.
The sooner you learn to make commitments, the sooner you become able to positively build up your life.
We teach our children the value of hard work
Kids need to learn that stress is a part of life: you cannot eliminate it completely, you must, rather, learn how to manage it. Doing a few small jobs involves gaining confidence, learning to converse and deal with different, even older people.
Moreover, working, toiling and devoting time to a productive activity teach the young person the value of money and the things he has. The young person understands that in order to pay for an aperitif, a dinner, a moped or a cell phone, one has to work many hours. And is not this an added value to his education? Is it not an essential life lesson?
People think it’s helping young people to allow them to live according to a hedonistic mentality.
Yet, it has been seen that as young people become less involved in society through work, mental health problems become much more prevalent.
Conclusion: the “compassionate” doctor does not always do right by his patients
Parents who are afraid of toil and work for their children should consider that work is gratification, is satisfaction: we all need to be useful in order to feel fulfilled, and without the ability to sacrifice, no lasting goal can be achieved in life. We do no good when we take on our children’s struggle in their place: on the contrary, we feed an inner unease and a deep sense of frustration.