Empowering Our Children

Here’s my two cents as a parent. I recognize that every family  has their own values; following is what worked for us.

When I was in grade school, I remember asking my mum to come to school for some reason–some slight that I felt or problem that I had. My mother’s response was, “I’m not fighting your battles for you. Go figure it out.” 

I’ve been doing just that my entire life. She empowered me. In her message she was also saying, “you can do this. I trust you to do this.” She wasn’t oblivious, the poor woman listened to me talk endlessly about every aspect of my day BUT she expected me to handle my own stuff. I believe I’m a strong, courageous, independent thinker because of her. 

We therefore raised our two children in precisely the same way and they too are strong, courageous, independent thinkers.

Yes, there are times when parents need to get involved and ask questions, particularly if it’s a situation where the problem is with one of the adults in the system. And if a child truly doesn’t have the resources to handle a problem on his or her own, we need to work together to support and strengthen that child’s strategies. As a school district we also work hard to monitor behavior and correct when necessary, with a litany of progressive discipline as needed. We listen to both sides. We ignore nothing. 

Sometimes parents show their children love by saying, “I’ve got this! I will fight for you! No one is going to talk/do this to you!” I’m suggesting that we strengthen our kids by talking problems through with them, offering suggestions and empowering them to handle the problems themselves.

I wonder if I had fought every battle for our two kids, would they be the independent, capable adults who they are today? Believing in their ability to problem solve worked. I’m still listening to them and offering suggestions, then knowing they’ll do the right things and make good decisions.  The greatest accomplishment of my life is right there, in those two strong, courageous adults.


  1. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment here!

    For Laura who talked about addressing the student body, what do we do within our schools as assemblies or presentations?

    At SMS, each year, counselors do classroom presentations on bullying in each grade level. This year we have focused specifically on 6th grade in their seminar classes already. 7th and 8th grade presentations are upcoming this fall prior to the end of the first marking period. Our kindness campaign runs in January. This includes a school-wide challenge focusing on kindness in each grade level.Ongoing throughout the year are team meetings that include discussions regarding student need depending on the situation. Our ongoing message to students in counseling sessions is to spread kindness and show respect towards others.

    In our elementary schools, we had an anti-bullying/say no to drugs assembly last year and will have again this year during Red Ribbon Week. School counselors do an anti-bullying lesson in every classroom every year. This year the theme will be bucket filler/ bucket spiller. Bucket filler is someone that is kind to others and helps others, bucket spiller is someone that is hurtful or bullies others. A box associated with this will be placed in the library for student to report bucket fillers and spillers.

    At the high school level, grade level assemblies focus on this topic at the beginning of the year and our counselors and administrators address every concern directly.

    In addition, as part of our annual mandatory training for every employee, we all take a refresher course on bullying. We study what constitutes bullying and what we need to do to stop it.

  2. This is the exact model that we have used with our daughters. They are high functioning, self-sustaining adults who love their jobs. This IS the model that should be used. Thanks Kim

  3. Maybe addressing the student body of these ideas. Maybe talking to the kids, the adults can help them to problem solve. Problem solving is not intuitive, it is something kids have to learn, which means it is something teachers should be teaching. Maybe an assembly on kindess, decency, humanity. Maybe an assembly on bullying and the results than can and have occurred because of bullying. Suicide is not fake. Its not a joke. Its not a slight. Its real. I empower my child to speak up, what does she do when no one listens?

  4. My parents were similar. They were supportive and caring, but expected me to handle my own problems. As I became an adult, I prided myself in being completely independent. I always knew they were there if needed, but I made sure I didn’t.

  5. As teachers we also have the ability to build problem solving skills during academic lessons, but we model, reinforce and motivate students to use appropriate problem solving skills socially within our school. It is wonderful to see students using these skills or attempting to use these skills on their own.

  6. I agree. My job as a parent is not to do things for my children that they can handle themselves. This has greatly helped my daughter who is heading off to college next year be able to stand on her own 2 feet. She’s able to handle her own issues and make her own decisions. I am her sounding board not her problem solver.

  7. Well said! Teaching children to self-advocate and use their own voice is so important, especially in today’s world. I will be here to support my children and help to guide them along the way, but I want them to be confident and independent in all they do throughout their lives. Teaching them how to problem solve and speak up for themselves will only help to lead them to successes later on.

  8. As hard as it may be sometimes, I totally agree! While we just want what is best for our own children, as well as our students, fighting the battles for them is NOT doing them a favor. Training our children to solve problems on their own, and providing them with coping skills are lifelong benefits. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!

  9. I completely agree! We, as parents, need to raise children that are capable of making decisions on their own, and to have the ability to fight their battles without parent involvement.

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