Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Parenting Advice from the Preteen

Yes, Alyssa, I know Olivia is perfectly capable of feeding herself. I appreciate the nudge you’ve been giving me and your dad as you help us urge Olivia into independency.

Alas, until Alyssa is the one who cleans up whatever mess Olivia’s made through her various OCD tics and her less than typical fine motor skills, there will be times when either I or her dad feed her as we try to get through the morning routine, the evening routine, the minutia of the day, etc. with as little mess/frustration/time as possible.


We were driving on afternoon when Alyssa broke an amiable silence with, “You guys should start letting Livie feed herself. She’s perfectly capable of doing it, you know.”

I replied, “Thank you for that sage parenting advice.”

She rolled her eyes and continued, “You didn’t feed me when I was eight.”

“You didn’t need us to feed you when you were eight, did you?” I asked.

“No! But she doesn’t need you to feed her either. She can hold a spoon you know!”

Olivia was sitting quietly taking in the conversation. At this point, she piped up, “I can hold a spoon but sometimes I don’t want to.”

This just made Alyssa huff and puff all the more.

I get it. I do. Some of my and Tom’s decisions probably hamper Olivia more than they help her.

The thing is, yes, Olivia can feed herself. And she does probably 70% of the time. But that other 30%? It’s just faster or neater or more convenient for us to help her.

I’m working hard on giving Olivia tasks that I know she can do rather than doing them for her. Most mornings these days I give her socks to her and tell her to put them on while I untie the knots in her shoes. She dressed herself each morning. She puts her dirty clothes into the hamper each evening.

There is so much Olivia can do and probably even more that we haven’t insisted that she do yet.

But honestly, I can do without parenting advice from my twelve year old. I try to remind her that I was a fabulous mother when I was younger too, but then I had kids.

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