Parenting: How Old is too Old or How Young is too Young?

parents-make-the-difference Do you ever ask yourself the question… how old is too old or how young is too young? What I mean by that is do you ever find yourself asking this/these questions in your personal, business, or children’s life? Think about it. How old is too old? Or how old is too young to play games or act like a child, how old or young do you have to be to make important business decisions, or how old does your child have to be in order to sit in the front seat of the car, sleep alone, or walk home from school?

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of being a single parent, life, or business in general is asking yourself questions that you may or may not have the answers to, hence another reason why I started blogging in the first place. The how old or how young questions and answers have been really been weighing on me lately, not because of my own decisions but instead because my child is now at the age I believe (he hasn’t mentioned this to me) that he is asking himself some of these same questions.

More importantly and one of the toughest things about being a parent (especially a single parent) is learning when not to become an over-bearing mom or dad by asking yourself the same questions every day. Let’s face it if you have kids or not who hasn’t watched the Pixar movie Finding Nemo? Remember at the beginning of the movie when Marlon (Nemo’s Dad) was thrown into the role of a single dad when a large barracuda ate his wife? Although this movie is fictional, I think that it portrays a good storyline of real life. In fact, this movie shows how parents (especially single parents) can struggle letting go of their children just like Marlon or as simple as when we finally have to let our own kids cross a road by themselves, drive a car, or leave the nest headed off to college.

Relating Marlon and Nemo’s story to real life, can you see the foreseen or unforeseen danger of letting your kids go? If you are like me… Probably not but one thing should be clear and that is if we don’t loosen up the reins on our kids more times than not they will start to rebel against us much like Nemo did when he intentionally sets out to rebel against his father for being so controlling. How old is too old or how young is too young to swim alone? With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment and share some of my own thoughts about how old is too old or young with all of you that perhaps we can all learn from or expand upon them even further.

  1. First and for the last eight years as a dad, I have learned (consistently learning) that we cannot prevent most of the mistakes our kids will make, however we can prepare for the mistakes our children will make by providing them with honest advice as they grow. This does not mean that we lie to our children either whatever the case. It simply means that we tell them the truth even if the truth hurts, as we do not want them to make the same mistakes as we or others in our lives have or did make, right? The simple what is right and what is wrong should suffice. Don’t be like Marlon in Nemo and be to over protecting or make up stories if you want to have an open and honest relationship with our/your children.
  2. Secondly, we all need to do a better job (i.e. parents, family, friends, teachers, etc.) at helping ours and other children become the people they are capable of becoming. Instead of consistently labeling one another as over-bearing, insecure, needy, show-off, helpless, timid, confident, etc., what we should be turning these labels (in marketing terms or in my point of view) “weaknesses” into “strengths” or in Marlon’s case swimming on your own.  Example– A couple of weeks ago my son (8 yrs old) and I were outside throwing the football back and forth to one another just like watching other older students or professionals on television. After a few throws, I realized that my son was having a difficult time throwing overhand and catching the ball (lots of pouting), so I decided to throw underhand and cradle the ball as he threw it to me (just like Marlon cuddling Nemo). Problem solved, right? Wrong, after a couple more throws like this I realized that if I continued to throw and catch this way (over protecting him from disappointment) he would give up trying to become better. So, instead I switched back to overhand, threw the ball up and made several catches to myself, and he got pumped up about the bigger, higher, faster is better approach. By leading instead of catering to him in just this simple game of catch, he realized that if he keeps trying with encouragement from me anything is possible. He now asks to play catch almost every day (positive reinforcement or strength), which is good and bad from an over worked 30 something year old man-lol.
  3. Lastly, we all need to do a better job at giving ourselves credit when credit is due. In other words stop asking how old is too old or how young is too young and start giving yourself/ourselves more pats on the back for being good parents because let’s face it there are a lot of parents that are not so good and involved in their children’s lives. Way to many times in our lives or parenting ventures we all become our own biggest critics or worst enemies. Being a parent is by far one of the hardest thing I done (ya and I have a DBA/PhD) but we don’t have to continually fight ourselves or over complicate things do we? Do we really have to listen to all the negative feedback by others personally in their lives or on Facebook and let that affect our own lives, careers, and parenting? Absolutely not! Lets stop being so hard on ourselves/yourself and start smiling more, admit to our past mistakes, and pass on our real-life past experiences of positivity to others and especially our children. Like social media and its ability to connect others, parenting should also be about connecting but instead of connecting with others we should be connecting more with our kids to show that we are there in whatever capacity (physically, mentally, or emotionally) for them. Today and every day forward, pat yourself on the back, give your kid/kids a hug, and tell yourself and others what a good job you/they are doing in whatever capacity.

Letting GO!

In the end of Finding Nemo, Marlon seemed too had learned from his mistakes and looked at parenting in a completely new light, I even believe they made another movie. Instead of being a parent that is consistently trying to secure your/our children, let’s all try to encourage and also not be such an over bearing insecure one. As parent’s we all must ask the difficult how old is too old or how young is to young but more times than not we need to ask these questions less (or at least I do). In other words, we need to water our seeds less and let them grow more, as they were intended to grow with moderate water and sunshine. These my friends are the trees (our children) that will grow into long lasting landscape that we are really trying to create, yes? Ask but not too much and plant but not too much water in order to maintain those landscapes of our future generation.  As always, I look forward to your opinions and like usual don’t forget to KEEP SMILING, as it really does look good on you!