How to Cripple Your Kids: Treat Them Like They're Helpless

Filed under: Opinions

My friend Michelle's preschool daughter has autism. Every morning Michelle brings her into school, where the staff teaches the kids with special needs how to get their boots off, how to stuff their mittens in their pockets, how to hang their coats on the pegs, etc., etc.

In the meantime, right across the hall, there are a bunch of second graders who do not have special needs. You might not realize that, however, because they are standing there like mannequins as their parents yank off their boots for them, stuff their mittens into their pockets, and hang their coats on the pegs for them, etc., etc.

Isn't it weird that nowadays a lot of people think that being a "good" parent means treating their little darlings as if they're handicapped -- in fact, more handicapped than kids with actual special needs?


Consider the simple fact that when most of us were growing up, the majority of us walked to school. Today, one in 10 do. Suddenly kids can't walk? Or how about the fact that around the country, PTAs have found a new way of raising money: They auction off the "drop off" space directly in front of the school -- the very space that would be marked "Handicapped Parking," if it were in front of the zoo or mall. So parents are vying for the chance to treat their kids like invalids.

It's not like I'm immune to the pressure to over-help. Truth is: I make my kids' beds (when they get made at all). It's faster. It's easier than badgering them. But the times that I do actually manage to step back, I see the young men they are capable of being: Dudes who can actually smooth out a blanket! Imagine that!

The thing for us to remember is that, while no kid likes chores, kids do like being grown up. That's why a kid as young as two will declare, "I cut!" and raggedly tear her pancakes: Even babies don't want to be babies. But baby them long enough and the drive to "Do it myself!" gets beaten out of them. "Mom, can you [fill in the blank] for me?" Make breakfast? Get me to the game? Sleep with my girlfriend? (Well, maybe not ...)

Imagine if there was a class that would teach our kids how to be self-reliant. It would have a waiting list a mile long!

Well, there is a class, and it's free. It's called, "Hang your coat on the peg yourself," a.k.a., Life. The key is preparing our kids for it and then sending them off for their lessons.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.