Please Don't Help My Kids

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up and help them climb the ladder. I brought them here so they could learn to climb it themselves.

By Kate Bassford Baker

Dear Other Parents At The Park:

Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you've just heard me tell them I wasn't going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves.

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn't bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves.

They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.

In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.

It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.

I don't want my daughters to learn that they can't overcome obstacles without help. I don't want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort. I don't want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that's holding them back and *earn* it.

Because — and this might come as a surprise to you — none of those things are true. And if I let them think for one moment that they are, I have failed them as a mother.

I want my girls to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success. 

I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions. 

I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.

I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.

I want them to climb that ladder without any help, however well-intentioned, from you.

Because they can. I know it. And if I give them a little space, they will soon know it, too.

So I'll thank you to stand back and let me do my job, here, which consists mostly of resisting the very same impulses you are indulging, and biting my tongue when I want to yell, "BE CAREFUL," and choosing, deliberately, painfully, repeatedly, to stand back instead of rush forward.

Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and scarier, and much more difficult to climb. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather help them learn the skills they'll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, "I think I can, I think I can", and while those 15 whole feet between us still feels, to them, like I'm much too far away.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dibba February 12, 2014 at 07:58 PM
kind of nasty if you ask me. maybe other people aren't there to implement your parenting philosophy. Why don't you hand out flyers to the offending parents who DARED to help your kid? Oh, maybe they are sick of your kids hogging all the equipment with their "learning". Why don't you stay home in your own backyard if you are so offended by the kindness of strangers?
macgeek February 12, 2014 at 08:12 PM
strange post. lots of "I"s in your post. it's all about you isn't it? pardon us for being on your planet.... and getting in your way or cramping your style.
Gabriel Anthony February 12, 2014 at 08:18 PM
Dibba if you are sick of kids hogging with there learning then why don't you stay home and play in your own backyard. Thats the problem with todays parents and our government system. Soon we will not have any more astronauts or doctors etc because we have to all be equal and everyone needs to be a winner and handed everything. In real life bosses give raises when they go above there work duties. People who get the high paying jobs earn it.
Dibba February 12, 2014 at 09:00 PM
ugh, maybe I agree with her parenting philosophy but not her attitude. Yes, the fall of Western civilization will happen because of this nonsense. I just think people are trying to be nice. Maybe they think the mom is tired. I'm not the one writing nasty articles about being in a public park so I'll go out thank you. Maybe the author needs to lighten up a bit. Her attitude is what bothers me.
Ilir Bitici February 13, 2014 at 02:20 AM
Bravo! "Tiger Mom" is better then "Helicopter Mom".
Monique Avakian February 13, 2014 at 08:06 AM
Great reminder! When my daughter was little, others expressed great concern and upset that I just let her climb trees and figure out how to get down. She was always a careful mover, so it was a good risk to take. She never fell, and today, at 22, she has traveled to several challenging countries to do difficult youth work, proving your point about backing off in order to pormote character development and motivation!
Monique Avakian February 13, 2014 at 08:10 AM
Now I see the comments about attitude and plagiarism. Hope this is not plagiarized !!!!!!! Gosh. That would be sad. As for attitude, sometimes reading text on Internet is hard because you can't get the nuance. I think the writer is just passionate about her opinion....but re-reading, now I do see that point. Thanks! This will help me double check my own writing habits!
peg ryan February 13, 2014 at 09:13 AM
If only the bloggers before me could understand the true meaning of the content. I was touched by the message and as a grandmother, see it not as a reprimand of those who wanted to help but as a life lesson. The writer was not telling you to put your child in harm' way. She was merely explaining that if you never allow your child to experience the pitfalls of life, he/she will not be able to cope as they get older. Don't handicap them by constantly helping them. Guide them. There is a saying "There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. The first is roots, the second is wings." Please allow them to walk before they fly.
John Santaella February 13, 2014 at 09:20 AM
Thank you peg ryan and I hope with you post we can put this thread to bed.
Ra Ha February 13, 2014 at 09:39 AM
Tiger Mom is better than Helicopter Mom? Both are wrong. And most Tiger Moms are not encouraging their kids to do physically risky activities, unless you consider piano, violin, or homework physically risky.
Ra Ha February 13, 2014 at 09:39 AM
And the picture is a two year old. Plenty of pictures of 6 year olds around if she meant a six year old.
Jay Bourke February 13, 2014 at 11:58 AM
Well written Mom..seriously. It also caused me to reflect on my initial feeling to "jump in". So.o.o I've decide to take your message to heart and promise that the next time I spot you trying to change a tire with a stubborn lug nut along the side of a road, I'll just slow down, put a cheery smile on my face and wave. Wouldn't want to deprive you of the satisfaction of overcoming the hurdle that Fate just dumped in your path.
Loring Slivinski February 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM
These comments make me glad I don't have kids, quite honestly...
Tiffany Fonseca-Ferrier February 13, 2014 at 01:24 PM
I love how it is encouraged to post material that is obviously plagiarized!!! Great thing to teach people!! Kudos Falmouth Ptach Kudos!!!
Vinny Gotalot February 13, 2014 at 07:26 PM
Gabriel.Read my post and think real hard at my point I am trying to make before you post things. Sounds like you were an abused child that needs a hug.... Or maybe help onto the ladder.
Shanna February 14, 2014 at 09:28 AM
it's amazing how an article about letting your kids try things on their own turned into people saying they will refuse to help anyone now, and kids hogging playground equipment. Makes me wonder who the real children are.
Carol Harrison February 14, 2014 at 10:07 AM
In Ms. Baker's narrative she states that they helpful person heard her tell her child to try and do it herself. The helpful person butted in. How would you feel if at store your child asked for a candy bar while in the check out line? You said no (for whatever reason, allergies, health, the child had misbehaved). The person in front of you in line buys a chocolate bar and hands it to your child? Not helping a child on the slide is not the same as not rescuing a drowning person. There are helicopter parents, tiger moms, and free range parents. I give my child freedom based on her abilities. And I learned along time ago to parent her as her, and not by another parents rules for their children. My daughter walked sooner than her peers in daycare. She had great mastery of gross motor skills. One day I was at the park with her and a classmate of hers was there with his mom. He was about 6 months older. His mom forbid him to climb up to the slide. I was concerned about how she would judge me, because I let my kid do it. So I followed her up, even though she had mastered this skill. So I was at the top of the slide. She reached the bottom. And then tried something new I'd I was in no position to stop her. She turned around and walked up the slide like the bigger kids. I should have waited for her at the bottom of the slide, like I usually did. I should have parented in my own way and not like the other mother. Maybe when you observe other families before you help, just take a minute to think. Then help if you must. If it is needed.
Amanda Leigh Goff February 14, 2014 at 11:37 AM
I agree with Carol Harrison's post and the author and some of the others. Children need to learn to do things for themselves. If you hand them everything, what do they learn? How do they become responsible? They will not learn the value of anything. With hard work comes a sense of accomplishment and self esteem and self worth. Don't rob your children of that.
Michael Tierney February 14, 2014 at 12:37 PM
Just go see the Glass Menagerie
sharlie babbitt February 20, 2014 at 03:19 PM
Just choice not to have children. Problem solved in our overcrowded world.
John Dorfle February 24, 2014 at 07:45 PM
Man, this is still going? Your kids are all crying out in unison for your attention. Get off the web and go play with them.
Beege Marshall February 26, 2014 at 01:13 AM
;o> Or maybe they're like mine were John, and finding scads of things to get interested in on their own without my help ........
John Dorfle February 28, 2014 at 06:59 PM
Yeah, maybe. Most likely they had no other choice, as you will prove by arguing with me on the web.
PK Thunder March 03, 2014 at 05:08 PM
And Vinny, your comment equating not helping a kid up a playground ladder to letting them drown at the bottom of a pool is dumb enough to get it's own call out. Seriously, do you also compare apples to freight trains? I'm guessing you don't have kids, do ya...
MikeP March 04, 2014 at 03:21 PM
Noreen Dalisera March 04, 2014 at 03:29 PM
If posts are going to continue regarding this article, please refrain from using offensive language. Curse words are never acceptable wording in these posts.
Carol Harrison March 04, 2014 at 03:48 PM
John, I only know this is still going on because I get email updates. So this had been quiet since the 14th when someone jumped on 6 days later to tell people to no have kids. Then 4 days after that you have to join in on kicking the dead dog. You seem determined to keep it alive.
Beege Marshall March 06, 2014 at 04:59 PM
John, you are the one arguing with people ..... ;o> I was making a good natured comment. It's YOUR interpretation of other people's tone. And no, my children are much older than the Internet, so I wasn't on it ignoring them as you imply. You sound like you feel your mother ignored you. In spite of your assumption, I did take mine to countless activities year round throughout their childhoods and adolescences to find out what they were good at and liked. They are so independent and competent from my allowing and encouraging them to learn as independently as appropriate, they became jet setters and globe trotters for years working all over the world literally before they finally settled down and started families. BTW, they both partially paid for their own college educations and graduate degrees. One received full scholarship with living expenses for two graduate degrees working as a TA. A parents PRIMARY responsibility is to teach their children to SURVIVE on their own just as in nature and the animal kingdom.
Cathi March 10, 2014 at 07:06 AM
How can I remove this thread? It's annoying and it's OLD.
Noreen Dalisera March 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM
Cathi and everyone else just as frustrated with the continued commenting - sign into your patch account, go to email settings and there is a section to opt out of receiving notifications when someone posts a comment on something you commented on.


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