Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

One little S. That’s all you have to add to “mothering” to make it “smothering.”

The “s”mother is a close cousin of the helicopter parent.

But what do you do you’re not the smotherer?

I didn’t take it so well, myself.

There’s a teacher aid at the school – not my son’s aid, but in many of my son’s classes – who has that heavy-handed “I know best” personality.

She brings out the grrr in me.

First, it was little things. Parker carries a 3-ring binder with him to write song lyrics in when he has free time. Mrs. Smother decided it was keeping him from focusing on his Social Studies class, so rather than talk to his teachers or us, she forbade Parker from carrying the notebook, even making him take it back to his locker when he brought it to class.

We intervened, touching base with the teacher, who said, “Parker is my best student. He has a 99%. His lyrics notebook is not a problem and he is welcome to bring it to class.”

I was nice that time.

Then, she thought maybe Parker’s hair was too long. That one didn’t even have to come to us because Parker’s school counselor intervened on our behalf.  Parker has since had his hair cut, but it was his decision, and we let him get there on his own. He discovered that long hair was a pain because it got in his mouth when he was eating, and that rock stars can have short hair.

But when Parker came home from school frustrated because even after telling Mrs. Smother that he didn’t want to organize his things in a certain she took his property and did it for him anyway, I wasn’t quite as nice, although I did manage to edit the cussing that was occurring in my brain from the email I sent to Parker’s teaching team.

Kids in middle school are trying to learn independence. They won’t do everything the way we want them to. They won’t do everything perfectly. But we absolutely should be supporting them in their budding independence, respecting their space, and valuing their individuality.

As a parent, you can help your child by teaching him or her be respectful but to have the power to say NO. No thank you, even. But NO. And the younger you allow your child a little bit of personal control over his or her environment, the better. Empowered kids are independent thinkers with a strong sense of self-esteem and the self-confidence to say no to other things – like peer pressure and bad choices.

So whether you’re adding the “S” to mother or someone else is for you, take it back.