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‘Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy’

I recently received a communication from a family member insinuating that I make my child’s life too easy.

When I asked them for clarification, they told me that they sent the message by mistake.

Honestly, I’ve been thinking about that message since it arrived in January.

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”

From an outsider’s perspective, if you’re not my close friend or family member, it might seem like I pamper my daughter. That I go out of my way to ensure that every challenge is handled before it even greets her.

And hey, maybe that is the case. 

But I don’t believe that the way I’m doing things is wrong.  

I think the way that I am raising her is going to make her an intelligent, kind, considerate, thoughtful, and (hopefully) hilarious person who can regulate their emotions in a healthy and productive way, while also being able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.

Many of my peers are doing their very best to not pass along their own childhood trauma to their kids. Does this mean that they will 100 percent avoid giving trauma to their kids? No. Does this mean that they are mindful in the way they are raising their children to hopefully minimize trauma? Yes.

Raising kids now is drastically different than it was 15 years ago and 30 years ago. It’s pretty much incomparable to how it was two generations ago. Fifty years ago, parents smoked cigarettes with the windows rolled up and their toddler in the front seat, and most people thought that was normal.  

With the advent of technology, we have customized advice at our finger tips. With a few simple clicks, I can learn how to be the best parent possible. I can quickly and easily find information, backed by statistics and research, on how to raise my child for optimal physical and emotional health.

At least my parents had some studies and a few authors who wrote books on the subject of child welfare so they could do their own research.

My grandparents? They were hard core winging it based on the previous generations. Good luck and God bless, am I right?

But I return to this comment, this implication that I am handicapping my child by making their life too easy.

My daughter is often shy until she gets to know you. But you know what? She’s allowed to be shy, and she’s allowed to be introverted. I’m not going to pressure her to be an extrovert like me.

My daughter can be sensitive to sound. But you know what? We don’t tell her to “suck it up” and force her to stay in a situation that is uncomfortable. We give her the time she needs away from the commotion. We teach her about tools she can use to cope with her feelings. When she’s ready, we bring her back to re-join the group.

My daughter can be a picky eater. But you know what? We don’t force it on her. Why would we? As an adult, if I don’t want to eat something, I simply do not eat it. Why shouldn’t she have that same opportunity? (p.s. She ate blueberries and uncooked oats the other night for dinner. My husband and I enjoyed a delicious coconut curry. Her loss.)

My daughter recently has started to request a snack immediately before bed. She might be doing it to prevent bedtime or because she’s hungry. But you know what? I don’t care. I’m going to feed her. To teach her to not nourish her body when she wants to feels like a scary step into a future eating issue.

My daughter is intelligent, inquisitive, fun, imaginative, kind, and considerate. When she’s moody or mad or sad, we walk her through how she’s feeling and teach her how to deal with those emotions. We are doing our best to provide her with coping skills that most of my peers didn’t develop until their 30s and/or are skill working on.

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”  

If “easy” is a loving home, mutual respect, understanding emotions, and clear communication, then I suppose my daughter is getting it easy.   

I guess we will all find out how I have handicapped her in the future. 



Bitsy McCann
Bitsy McCann owns a boutique graphic design firm in Harrisburg, PA, performs original music all around Central PA, officiates one-of-a-kind weddings, and spends most of her free time obsessing over her husband and toddler. She would absolutely welcome your thoughts and commentary - send her a message on either LinkedIn or Facebook

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