Did You Get the Hidden Parenting Message in Finding Nemo?

In the movie, Finding Nemo, Nemo's father, Marlyn asks the sea turtle, "Dude, how do you know when they are ready?"

This is an interesting question that many parents would like to know. How DO you know when your children are ready to take on tasks for themselves? The only way to know if your children are ready for something is to test them. In the movie you may remember Nemo being in the fish tank and becoming stuck in the air tube, all of the other fish wanted to rescue Nemo from a certain death. All except Gil. Gil could see that Nemo was perfectly capable of getting out of the tube for himself. Nemo on the other hand was told his entire life by his father that he couldn't swim well because he had a bad fin. Nemo promptly relayed this message to Gil. Yet Gil didn't buy it. He could see that Nemo could indeed save himself and he told him so. So what could Nemo do? Nothing. Nothing that is except perform. He had to save himself because he had no other choice. He had to get out of the air tube himself or he would die. When put to the test by Gil, Nemo passed with flying colors. He got himself out of the air tube and quickly realized that he COULD do it himself. Gil instantly gave Nemo the gift of self-accomplishment and confidence that his father had unintentionally robbed Nemo of his entire life.

Children often tell their parents that they can't perform certain tasks because children know that their parents will bail them out. Someone is always selling and someone is always buying. When your children are selling you on what they can't do, are you buying? Or do you sell them on what they CAN do?

As parents we must realize that our children need to be tested in order to grow. We must allow them to fail on the little things and be there to pick them up when they fall. This is how they learn. This is how they grow.

Nemo's Father Taught us Failure is Necessary for Success!

I think the way you know they are ready is to train them to do a task and then teach them why it is important to be able to do it themselves and then turn them lose and allow them some room to fail. That's right, I said fail. My father once told me that failure was necessary for success. "Don't worry about failure," he said, "just make sure you fail forward." In order for children to develop properly we must allow them room to grow and not do everything for them. Anything you do for your children that they can do for themselves will cripple them. I find it interesting that Nemo had a crippled fin and wonder if he was crippled because his father never allowed him to swim very far from home because of the dangers of the ocean. Nemo's father was so overprotective of him that he didn't give him the skills necessary to develop confidence and the life skills he needed to deal with the dangers of the ocean.

This is the type of parenting that creates children that never learn to get themselves out of a jam. These children become very dependent on others to bail them out of every situation. These children grow into dependent adults. Not only do they become extremely dependent on others, they have very little confidence in themselves and their own abilities and often lead a chaotic life.

It is difficult to know when we are being too protective of our children and to know when we must step in and rescue them. I suggest that parents not only train their children how to do something but also give them the "why" behind the training so they instill it in their mind. We must train AND teach them about the world so they can learn to make good decisions when we are not there to bail them out.

Nemo continued...Are You too Protective? If so, what can you do?

When you watch the movie, Finding Nemo, you will notice that Nemo's father protected him from anything that might be potentially dangerous. In doing so, he never taught little Nemo how to deal with the dangers he might face in the world. This would be like never allowing our children to cross the street unless we were with them because a car may hit them. At some point we must train them how to do it and then teach them why it is important to follow this training. Then we simply must trust them enough to allow them to try it on their own.

Perhaps you have been overprotecting your children. How can you change? First ask yourself. Can he do this himself? Is he at the point he can be trained how to do this? Why should he do this himself? This is the only hope of giving your children confidence in their own abilities and making them independent of you. After all, your job as a parent is to teach your children to be independent of you, not dependent on you!

Michelle Shelton and her husband Paul live in Gilbert, Arizona with their five children. Michelle is a full time Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Southeast Valley and focuses on Arizona Horse Property. You can visit her site at http://www.askmichelleshelton.com or email her at [email protected]

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