She doesn’t like your dinner so you make her mac and cheese. He doesn’t like crusts, so you cut them off. Your nine and 12-year-old won’t wake themselves up, pack a lunch, or make breakfast, so these responsibilities fall to you.
She doesn’t like the kids at her bus stop so you sit through a car line so long and tedious that you begin to yearn for a day at the DMV. He forgot his homework. Better skip your exercise class and bring it up to him. She wants to play volleyball. Looks like the family is now indentured to four nights a week and travel every weekend until she leaves for college.
Turn on the TV and the news tells you that you’re a horrible parent if your children so much as open the blinds in this child-predator saturated environment. Hollywood indoctrinates children in the methods of victimhood and parent manipulation. Society has broadly accepted that kids should be allowed to blow us off at the dinner table and storm off to their room whenever parents aren’t adequately meeting their needs (to their warped standards, of course). When children say, “You can’t do that,” adults often listen.
Today’s parents believe they have to acquiesce the tantrums and feel bad when the young narcissist spins some yarn about us not loving them enough, not spoiling them like Johnny’s parents do, being “too hard on them,” or doing more for their sister.
Do More Than Provide and Protect
Modern parenthood is about providing and protecting maximally while neglecting every other pursuit in your life. Social media is full of brags about how parents forgot to eat all morning, spent their summer traveling to baseball tournaments, or stayed up past 3 am assembling Christmas presents.
High-schoolers are given cars their teachers could never afford, some brand new, while the average US family remains in staggering debt that precludes much of any retirement. All the while, depression, divorce, and unhappy marriages grow more prevalent as we are told we have to lose ourselves making our children the center of our universe.
The standard model would have you believe that the duty of a parent is to accept every childhood need. A generation grows more dependent than ever as mom and dad are convinced they have to be an ever-present bulldozer, there to grant wishes, clear paths, and mitigate any resistance.
We are constantly pulled in by a world that convinces us that our children are somehow epically disadvantaged, at risk of irreparable damage. In reality, they’re epically soft, and so are we.
Photography by Jeffrey Perez of Oahu, Hawaii
These expectations are killing your health and your spirit while removing the most necessary ingredients for children’s development.If your only interest is your children, that is very destructive to your children.
We instill impossible expectations that ensure our children’s dependency and disappointment while neglecting to become the sort of models that would have inspired them to greater heights.
We convince them they should be catered to while allowing ourselves to be fractured into a shell of who we were meant to be. Exhausted and pulled ever thinner our health wanes and we don’t have the strength to fight the battles that actually matter.
Strong Parents, Strong Children
You cannot pour from an empty glass and without personal strength and purpose, all your efforts have a low ceiling. You are a duller knife, far less capable of cutting through the BS standard model to deliver powerful parenting and a model of strong living—as even airplane safety states, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
You have to be growing or you are dying. What is it you are trying to learn? What is it you want from life? I don’t care if you have kids—that is not an excuse to sit there and call it a life. The greatest thing you can do for your kids is to model passion and chase your dreams. The worst thing you can do for them is to delude them into thinking your world should revolve around them. They need you to have interests other than them and they need to support your goals and dreams just as you do theirs.
Remember that the point of parenting is not to over-provide and overprotect. Once baseline needs (food, shelter, love) are taken care of, the overwhelming emphasis becomes creating great people, capable of overcoming inevitable challenges and oriented towards contributing to the world.
We want our children to be more, not to have more. Children are young citizens, not glass china. Let’s not pretend they need to be sheltered from the world and coddled incessantly. They need to become people who yearn to live a bold life of adventure. That follows your model.
Be a badass and live with strength so they will. Stand for the things that matter, so they will. Do cartwheels, muscle ups, and handstands so they want to. Join a mud-run, a Spartan Sprint, or a gym full of awesome people so they are enthusiastic about staying active after age 18.
It is the age of choice and opportunity. The sky is the limit and often that creates paralysis by analysis. If you are looking for where to start, or want to successfully re-start on this path to self-development, start with the principles of successful action.
Justin Lind and I have written a free e-book, The Essential Guide to Self-Mastery. At only 23 pages, it is easily digestible and ends with a 4-Week Habit and Willpower Training Program that prompts you towards seamlessly adopting the habits that amplify every pursuit in your life.
This Week’s Mission
If you haven’t already get The Essential Guide to Self-Mastery. For those who have already worked through this guide, I challenge you to take the next step. Sign-up for an event that puts you in the arena and forces the family to support you.
This could be a 5k, a mud-run, or even a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class you’ve been wanting to start taking a few days per week. It will be easy to talk yourself out of this. It will be uncomfortable to break out of the routine and choose yourself. Imagine who you could be in six months, in a year. Do it.