Photo: Amy Carney

Let’s get right to it: Our kids need us to stop being so productive in our parenting so that they can learn how to be productive in their own lives. Let’s run through what a typical day might look like for a “productive” parent.

In the morning the productive parent wakes the child up. The productive parent makes the breakfast. Goes back in to wake their sleeping beauty again. Packs the lunch. Throws in the laundry. Cleans up after breakfast. Reminds Johnny to take his washed and folded PE uniform and his library book that is due.Off to school, he goes.

Good thing he has a cell phone to text Mom when he realizes she forgot to remind him to bring his math book. And because the productive parent wouldn’t want him to be without what he needs, she runs it to school. And the scenario goes on….

Is it possible that our productive parenting is hindering our children from becoming productive adults?

Our goal as parents is to (hopefully) raise a confident, responsible and independent adult who can capably live in the real world one day without us. It’s time to recognize if we are stealing opportunities from our child to grow into the productive person they are meant to be.

Here are five reasons I’m trying to be a less productive parent in 2018—and why other parents should join me in my efforts.

1. Our kids don’t know how to fail.

We can’t stand to watch our offspring face disappointment and hardship so we do all we can to keep our babies from feeling discomfort. We know that failure doesn’t feel good and we want our children happy, so we shield and protect them from anything that may make them feel uncomfortable. But as adults, we have mistakingly forgotten that failure is a necessary part of life. How will we ever know when we’ve truly succeeded if we’ve never been allowed to fail?

 Most of our parents didn’t pick up the pieces when things fell apart for us. We learned how to do that ourselves. Why then aren’t we allowing our children the same space to learn and grow from negative experiences?

2. Our kids don’t know how to problem solve.

Recently I interviewed several university deans, professors, teachers and employers about the differences between young adults today compared to past generations. They unanimously said that adolescents don’t know how to solve problems for themselves.

Who’s to blame for this? Siri and Alexa get my vote—but so do parents. No matter who’s to blame, we as parents have to be adamant about giving our child the confidence and space to figure out solutions for themselves. Only then will they get to experience the consequences that follow their decisions—good and bad. How can we begin to empower our children to make choices for themselves instead of them relying on us or technology to do the work for them?

3. Our kids don’t know how to fend for themselves.

My viral post on the “8 Things You Should Stop Doing For Your Child” touched on how we need to purposely raise an adult instead of big kids who leave our home clueless instead of capable. 

It’s up to us parents to let our child become productive instead of us continuously producing for them. It is the rare child who is going to ask to wake themselves up, do their own laundry, make their own breakfast, fill out their own paperwork and the list goes on. Children of all ages like having things done for them, so you are going to have to take the lead in teaching them what they need to know.

As parents, we must strive to balance nurturing our child and teaching them life skills. Don’t mistake doing everything for your teen as love. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for your child is to say no to bringing that forgotten item to them at school. 

4. Our kids don’t know how to be face-to-face with another human.

Technology is ruining childhood if you haven’t figured that out already. We parents must have boundaries and rules for our smart devices, so our child grows up learning that their iPhone is an asset—not a part of their anatomy.

We must carve out space in our child’s life for them to be with people of all ages in person without a screen to hide behind. The group of professionals I interviewed agreed that young adults are very unsure of themselves in social settings today. They don’t know how to look another person in the eye or how to have casual, yet meaningful conversation face-to-face. It’s up to us as parents to create opportunities for our children to develop lifelong relationship and communication skills which are not going to happen by using Snapchat.

5. Our kids don’t know how to wait for anything.

I blame the brilliance of Amazon and their uber-productive shopping experience. Why wait for anything anymore when you know you can quickly click a few buttons on this website and have your desire in hand tomorrow? What can possibly be wrong with that? The concept of waiting for something you want or need is lost on the younger generation, thanks to Amazon. It’s up to us to teach our children how to wait. To wait for items that they want. To wait in lines. To wait to do things that aren’t appropriate for their age yet. 

With our over-productive parenting, we are creating a generation of kids who is afraid to fail, unable to problem solve, unwilling to help around the house, uncomfortable in the presence of other humans and who don’t want to wait for a thing. 

Parents, we must purposely be a bit more unproductive this year so that our children can become the productive people that they are meant to be.