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Passing the Torch of Responsibility

April 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Guest post by Michele Howe, author of Burdens Do a Body Good, Single Parenting Columnist

Kids make messes. Big messes. Small messes. Some we can laugh about, others, not so much. Little kids with chocolate smeared faces and sticky fingers can make us smile. Big kids with bad attitudes, failing grades, and a speeding ticket can make us weep. Messes, they’re a part of life and we might well ask how much of our time is spent cleaning them up, our messes and those of our kids. If we’re real honest, sometimes the two overlap and maybe, just maybe…our parental messes cause or provoke some of those our kids get mired in. Then again, maybe not. Messy stuff.

Either way, a mess of any significant proportion has to be faced and dealt with sooner rather than later. As parents we want to believe that we’ve done all we can to prepare our children for adulthood and for that next step of independence they’re continually clamoring for. And yet when we adopt that no longer helpful, “let me fix it for you” response to our older children’s actions, it gives us away. At this important stepping out juncture, we must ask ourselves hard questions. Are we enabling (excusing) or ennobling (exhorting) our offspring through our intervention? Mind-boggling, isn’t it, the mess we make by not understanding the difference. Moms enable their kids when they excuse or make excuse for their children’s poor choices. Moms can ennoble their kids by doing precisely the opposite. No excuses. No justifying. No condoning. Nothing doing. Nope. None of that. Not now, not ever. Not even a possibility. Clean it up, now. Mind your own mess.

Women, who give way and make excuses for their kids’ behavior, find it is easier in the short run. The kids don’t grouse or complain and they walk away feeling like they got away with something. And really, we know they didn’t, they know they didn’t. There’s no escaping from the repercussions of our decisions, be they little or large and to give kids a false sense of security on this front is mindlessly shortsighted at best. At worst, the messes our kids will make with their lives if they believe they can do what they want, when they want, and with whom they want, will only hurt them (and others) over the long stretch of adulthood.

Kids with moms who are perpetually cleaning up after them are (or likely will be) young adults who are ill equipped to stay in school, enter the job force, or sustain any type of lasting relationship…just won’t happen, especially when life gets messy-hard (and it will). Their messes will continue to getter bigger and more confounding, and with ever-widening circles of clutter. Messier and messier. Until no one, not even their family will want to get close enough to even attempt to unravel the monstrosity.

When moms excuse their kids from living responsibly it’s a simple case of “benign neglect” which in medical speak means, “watching a problem clinically without really treating it.” Moms can sit and observe their kids’ behavior while doing absolutely nothing about treating (or correcting it). This type of parental neglect couldn’t be more detrimental. Not to forget self-perpetuating. One mess-ridden pile on top of another. Painful. Neglectful. And it could be…preventable.

Takeaway Action Thought: While not all parent/child relational messes are avoidable, many of them are preventable.

Weight Bearing Exercises

Women are experts at cleaning up other people’s messes. Just comes naturally, that nurturing bent to help someone get through a tough time, overcome a difficulty, or simply walk alongside in friendly fashion. When it comes to taking care of their young adult children, roles necessarily shift and women can no longer dictate in their former “what’s best for you” mom-mode. Still, armed with facts in hand, moms can continue to be the “go-to person” when their kids have questions, concerns, or just aren’t sure. Given their kids will come to them for advice, moms need to know some of the mistakes made most often in health-related issues. See below for some of the commonest taken for granted areas of good health.

FACT: Children, teens and young adults live for the moment. From their standpoint, today is all that matters, tomorrow is too far away. As a result, they seldom think about what they do today and how it will affect them tomorrow or next month or even in years to come. Young people have little awareness that today’s choices can have profound effects on their health as an adult.

STATISTICS: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of today’s children ages 6 to 19 are overweight. This percentage represents 9 million children. Alarmingly, the number has tripled since 1980. The obese child is at risk for numerous health problems. These include diabetes, coronary artery disease, asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea.

PREVENTION: Experts agree that inactivity and poor eating habits contribute to obesity. National guidelines recommend 150 minutes of physical activity each week for elementary children and 225 minutes for older children. Most children do not meet this modest level of physical activity on a weekly basis.

CONSEQUENCES: It is important for parents to ensure that their children (teens, and young adults) eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly. The CDC reports that 80 percent of obese 10-15 years olds become obese adults. Clearly, it is vital for parents to set the bar early on for a healthy weight and activity level as failure to do so will likely carry a lifetime of obesity related problems.


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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.