A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at the YoDona & MalasMadres event in Madrid. I chose the moment to call for something that means a lot to me: mothers need to recover their own lives.
The talk had a great feedback and many people wrote me asking for it. It wasn’t recorded during the event so I did it again at my place and this is the result: (if you don’t understand Spanish, I explain the main idea below)
Without a doubt, the phrase I hear most often from mothers during my coaching sessions is: I’ve got no time. And I think that part of the reason may be that we are living two lives; our own and that of our children.
We get home in the evening after work and, besides our motherly chores (cleaning, tidying up, cooking…), we sit with them through their homework (pluralizing “what do we have for maths today?”), we do the projects for them, we turn to the class’s Whatsapp group for pictures of the textbook they’ve forgotten (as if the maths exercise was more important than learning the consequences of lack of responsibility). We even fill their university admission forms or prepare their wardrobe for college. The app Class120, which informs parents about their kids’ attendance to college lectures, was one of the most downloaded apps during last year’s course. Isn’t it crazy?
It’s a constant obsession that makes us feel responsible and guilty for each of their failures (“he didn’t pass because I didn’t take the time to revise with him”, “she doesn’t have friends because I don’t organize enough pyjama parties”).
The result? A generation with zero self-esteem (how could they have any if they grow up with parents that are convinced they aren’t capable of doing anything by themselves?) and zero resilience. This phenomenon of helicopter parenting is preventing our children from developing something as fundamental as common sense. They grow up expecting to always have someone behind them willing to solve their problems, and they haven’t felt the satisfaction of accomplishing something; the crucial sense of achievement.
If we are always there, willing to eliminate each problem our children have, we will raise people that are unable to change the world — an increasingly complex world in which only those brave and independent will stand out.
Overprotection against dangers is the greatest danger our children face.
This summer, let your kids live their lives and recover your own. Do you remember your childhood summers? Our parents didn’t feel the responsibility of entertaining us 24/7. They would let us wander on the beach village or in the country and we managed. Let them be free, allow them to take risks. Give them back that type of childhood full of adventures and autonomy, and recover some ‘you’ time to relax, have fun or even pick up on that project left forgotten.
Each Friday this summer, on my social media networks, you will find a challenge about this topic. Under the hashtag #retrosummer2015 we will climb trees, catch bugs, light fires, and ultimately, bring back those summers that shaped us and gave us so much happiness.
Will you join the challenge? I’ll be expecting you this Friday!