My oldest son turned 12 in May. He went to Scout Camp for a week...without me! He survived...but more than that he THRIVED! He did really hard things that he didn't think he could do. He swam to the bottom of the pool and recovered at 10 lb brick to earn his lifesaving merit badge. He earned 4 other very difficult merit badges as well. He grew up on that scout camp and his confidence SOARED!
Later that summer my husband decided he wanted to climb Mt. Olympus to honor two of his brothers. He invited my oldest to go with him...purposely withholding how difficult this hike was. My husband said it was the hardest hike he has ever been on (and that is saying something for him), my son said if he had known how hard it was beforehand he would not have gone. But you should see him light up when people congratulate him on doing it. It was quite possibly the hardest thing my son has done in his life...and he did it! I can't even tell you how proud I am of him!
This has changed me. I wasn't purposely trying to do things for my kids or trying to be a smothering, helicopter Mommy. It was just me trying to be loving and nurturing to my kiddos. But I took a good hard look at myself and my kids need to learn to overcome obstacles and how to do things themselves. I read a blog recently (can't remember where so I can't give credit) where when the child is having a hard time or needs help the Mom says, "You are a capable and smart person, what do you think you can to do accomplish that?" I love the positive nature of that comment and the confidence it instills.
I refuse to be the parent that my child needs me to swoop in and be in a job interview when they are 16 or fills out their college application. I think I can give them roots without strangling the roots with weeds of dependence on me. I am working on it, but my kids are doing more to help around the house, doing more for themselves and taking on more responsibility.
Old habits die hard, so I still find myself doing things for my kids that they can do for themselves (and sometimes that's okay...that's part of being a Mom). But kids gain confidence when they can do things for themselves and when they accomplish hard things, so I will continue to make my transformation and hopefully raise 5 confident, capable children!