If I were to ask your 5 yr. old a question that he/she could answer like, “Do you like going to school?” Do you answer for her?
Recently I was discussing this with a friend who had just experienced the ‘parent answering’ when asking a 14 yr. old boy about his hockey experience. The father would not allow his son to answer even the most basic question like, “Do you prefer to play offense or defense?” The father just habitually ‘jumped in’ to answer on behalf of his son. Why was he doing this?
Every time parents jump in to answer for a child that is capable of answering the question himself it can communicate several things to the child:
1-you're not smart enough
2-you're not capable
3-I have a better answer
And in almost every case it loudly communicates: YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH
I believe there are many reasons why a parent may answer questions on behalf of thier child in everyday conversations, do homework or a project for thier child and more. Whether consciously or subconsciously most of these parental decisions are made with fear as the driving force. Fear of what others will think of the answer their child gives, fear of what may be the result of a bad grade, fear of thier child being embarrassed etc… The fear is then accompanied by worry, which occurs when one fearful thought becomes a list of bad ‘problems.’ An example of this would be a parent that does the homework for their child for fear that he would get a bad grade otherwise, and a bad grade on a paper would be a bad grade on his report card, which would mean a low GPA, bad college options, poor job options, financial stress, and eventual homelessness (that’s dramatic I know, but you get the point).
The problem is, when we allow fear to make our decisions and drive our actions we are more likely to create the very thing we most fear. “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 NIV. In the example above, a parent who constantly fixes, edits, or does a child’s homework is more likely to create a child that is incapable, incompetent and insecure. Those traits are more likely to yield enormous amounts of anxiety for the child when they find themselves in a situation where there isn’t someone to ‘jump in’ with an answer to the problem. These insecure children are also less likely to have fulfilling lives, robust careers or even love and follow Jesus with thier whole hearts.
Encourage your children to ask tough questions of adults when necessary and appropriate, switch thier own classes in middle school if they don’t like the teacher, look people in the eye and answer the question respectfully, to embrace the lessons “failures” teach and so on. Above all, teach them to rely on God in all things….Because there’s only one Savior and it’s not you or me!
Written by Jamie Shaver