Problem: I am a married woman with four children, and I have recently noticed that my children do not take much responsibility for their lives. I have done everything for my children and have been a stay-at home-mom because I could. My husband does not participate much in raising our children because he is always working. He is good when he is home, but does not discipline much. I do not have a lot of time, and neither do the children, as we are all busy with activities. The children range in age from 10 to 17. 

My mother was a pretty laid back mom and she let my dad do the heavy stuff when it came to us kids. She worked and did so little for us, that we learned to do for ourselves. I never wanted to raise my kids that way, but now it seems I have raised helpless, lazy children. My children do little to nothing in regard to eating, cleaning up for themselves etc. I wonder if I am the cause of their helplessness. They are smart kids and do well in school and know how to handle most technology. They just do not seem to be able to take care of the incidentals of living. 

Discussion: If you have done everything for your children, what would make them want to know how to take care of themselves? If you were not in charge of your life, because someone does it for you, I think you might be in the same situation. You learned out of necessity. Your children do not have that same kind of life. Yes you may have contributed to their helplessness. 

They are not too young or too old to learn how to be more responsible. You have to do a self-evaluation and with the help of your spouse outline what you most want them to learn. Your children may be able and capable of learning new behaviors after all they are pretty smart. 

If you teach a child that he or she does not have to do a thing because you will do it for them—they will let you do it. This is not out of lack of caring, but if your life situation has no demands for your being responsible, you may become irresponsible by default. When you have expectations and your child knows it, they may not be resist what you expect so that they become more responsible.

Come up with a plan for them doing more for themselves and let them know what your expectations are. Discuss it. You might be surprised that when they know what is expected they can do what is expected. 

A simple guideline is that you are teaching your children so that  they can leave home in a productive way. They are building life skills that allow them to go out into the real world and make it. There aren’t places in the world where you have to do nothing to earn a living and take care of yourself. I suggest that you have expectations so that you do not cripple your children and they have no sense of self care, responsiblity and work. 

To submit problems, contact Juanita Sanchez, psychotherapist, by email at or contact High Plains Journal.

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