A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of my morning coffee when I realized I was ten minutes late to wake my daughter. I rushed upstairs and woke her and was greeted with, “Mooom, why didn’t you wake me up on time? Now, I’m not going to have enough time to get ready. It’s your fault if I’m late.” This angry bird reaction is not only reserved for late wakings. She’s pretty grumpy when she is woken, even when it’s right on schedule. This got me thinking. Why AM I the one waking my daughter every morning? At 14, I’m pretty sure she can set an alarm herself!
So often as parents, we do things for our kids without thinking. I always get my daughter up for school in the morning. It’s part of our routine, a ritual of sorts. I enjoy waking up a half hour early, having my first cup of coffee and reading the paper before waking her. Sure, she has her mornings when she doesn’t want to get out of bed or I wake her up late. On those mornings we start the day with hurried tension. But, waking her is just one of those jobs I do without thinking. It started when she was in pre-school and has continued in this way for ten years.
Even though I am always telling parents to seek out opportunities for their kids to be more independent, I didn’t recognize this one in my own parenting, until now. As our children grow, we have to ask ourselves regularly, “Which part of this task can my child do for him/herself?” This allows our kids to develop the skills they will need to be independent adults. When we do for our kids what they can do for themselves, we rob them of the gratifying feeling that comes from being self sufficient.
This brings me back to my daughter and our morning showdowns. It took about 30 seconds for me to demonstrate how to set her alarm. Not only has she been waking up on time without dawdling or complaining, but now I’m able to finish a complete newspaper article and even grab a refill.
I’m not sure I’m ready for that one yet.