My mom had this saying (which she’d usually bring out right after we’d bring home bucket loads of candy from trick or treating on Halloween): Everything in moderation. She’d also bring out one jar for each of us, and tell us that we could only keep the candy that we could fit in the jar. Everything else had to be packaged and wrapped for the Christmas carolers. So you can imagine how much I hated that saying. Everything in moderation–ick! How can there be moderation for candy?
So to try and trick her, my brothers and sisters would ask all sorts of questions. What about water mom? Don’t you always say to drink a lot of water? We can’t drink water in moderation! What about vegetables? What about exercise? But my mom was smart. If you drink too much water, you can lower your sodium levels in your blood (not good). If you eat too much vegetables, you might get sick of them and never want to eat them again (also not good). If you exercise too much, you’ll probably get cramps (cramps = pain = not good). But then I thought: What about love? Is there such a thing as love in moderation?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Puh-leez. No way. When it comes to my kids, there is no such thing as too much love. You’re totally thinking it, aren’t you? But it’s actually pretty amazing! That despite how messy, naughty, and frustrating our kids can be, we never ever run out of love for them. Just look at what we do for our kids! We go to work everyday to make sure we can pay for tuition to the best schools, give them the best clothes, buy them their favorite toys and pay for extra-curricular activities that will add to their ever-growing skill sets. Everything we do, we do in the name of love–for them. Cheesy? You know it’s true.
But it’s not just what we pay for and what we buy, it’s also what we do. If Enrique is crying with frustration because he can’t scoop his food onto his spoon, I take over and feed him. If Marco resembles a zombie because he stayed up all night writing a paper, I will take pity on him, and finish it for him. Because, the bottom line is, I don’t want the boys to suffer, I don’t want them to be sad, and I don’t want them to cry. That’s love, isn’t it?
But what happens when at age four, Enrique is the only child who can’t feed himself? What happens when Marco has an essay test and he can’t answer the questions because I did it for him? What happens when our kids get so used to having the best toys and clothes? We can breed entitlement.
I want my kids to be successful. I think everyone does. In this day and age, parents are grooming their kids to be prepared for the world. Aren’t you? We want our kids to surpass the lives we are living and aim higher than we ever dreamed. But how are we doing this? By providing them with everything they need and want? By shielding them from the bad and the harmful?
In this case, I do think there can be such a thing as “too much love.” Maybe it’s because of our love for our kids that we want the best for them, and we don’t want them to have to go through the hardships we experienced. But, realistically speaking, they need it to be successful. They need it to live in the world. If we satisfy our kids’ every whim, cater to their every desire, we make our kids think that they can take all of this stuff for granted. They don’t see the hardship and the reality that goes into living and succeeding in the real world. Sacrifice and adversity create character–something I realized I want more in my kids than success.
I know it’s hard to not give in to the feeling of giving everything and fixing every problem. Believe me, I struggle with it all the time. But I really do think that if you love your children, you will not only allow them to make mistakes and learn on their own, but you will be by their side, supporting them, hugging them, and listening to them.
It’s so easy to give and fix, but watching and waiting… now that’s a challenge.