I can’t do it myself!

If I had a nickel, heck even a penny, every time my kids told me they can’t do something themselves, I’d — yes I’m saying it — I’d be rich.  I know, horrible saying.  But it’s popular for a reason.  I’d totally be rich.  My kids are in serious need of some boot camp.  Or more accurately, us parents are in need of a boot camp. After having one kid after another for several years, we just got into this routine of doing things for our kids for several reasons:

1) Because they were all little and needed our help.

2) It’s quicker, and let’s be honest, we’re better at it.

3) We’re trained!  We, as parents, are trained by our kids to do things for them with a simple, and somehow convincing statement, “I can’t do it myself!”

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It’s amazing the things my husband and I will do with just a whine or slight resistance from our children whom we somehow envision as still being 2, when in fact, are all now in school.  We got stuck in this pattern of doing things for them, and in some ways, enjoyed doing these things for our children because it made us feel useful and that it’s our job as parents to wipe our kids’ asses until they are 5.  Yes, I said 5.  Our youngest has been potty trained since he was 3 (age 3 is the youngest of any our children to be potty trained, so this is obviously not an area of strength for us), so he’s had plenty of time to practice wiping himself.  But for 5 years we’ve been doing it for him.  I mean, why should he do it when he’s got these suckers around him to do it for him?

If you think your children are helpless, or like us, think they’re just too young to do something for themselves, go watch them at daycare or in their schools, and you’ll see just how not helpless they are.  It’s a clear case of enabling.  The tail wagging the dog!  It starts young and is a very powerful (and sneaky) phenomenon used by kids.  It’s not like they’re intentionally doing this, it’s just that us parents make it so easy for them.

Parenting is hard.  All kids are different and all parents are different.  We each have different personalities and each of us parent differently.  Why we do the things we do is a puzzle so big, with so many pieces, it’s nearly impossible to connect them all.  But I know that kids are usually not hard to figure out.  Sometimes it just takes us parents to take a step back and look at what we’re doing and why.  And we need to ask ourselves, do we want to raise the type of children who expect someone to wipe their asses for them?  I don’t.

Update:  Layton is now wiping his own ass.

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