Honestly, there was a time when I thought, Am I enabling them? Am I making it so they will be less independent and causing them to be more forgetful because they are relying on me?

By Katie Bingham-Smith
Photo by Getty Images

Every morning my son needs an extra wake-up call after his alarm goes off. My daughter stays after school on certain days for different activities, and I'm always reminding her which days I won't be picking her up until later.

My son has set the alarm to rise earlier, my daughter has put reminders in her phone, but the thing is, our teens forget, too. It’s not only their bodies that are turning into men and women, they have a lot on their minds as well. Just because it isn't the same stuff we carry around with us as adults, doesn't mean they aren't trying to manage their own load.

I think what happens when we become a mother to teens is we expect a lot more from them practically overnight. It feels like just the other day I was teaching my son how to read, and now I expect him to be diligent about his school and homework, chores, and when his driving lessons are. And if I'm being honest, there have been a lot of times when I expect him to remember all of this without my help from me and get mad at him when he forgets something.

I tell my teens there are three of them and I need them to remember their own stuff. They try, they do. But just like me, they need to be reminded that Monday is trash day and they have coding club on Thursday morning before school so they need to pack an extra snack.

When I was a teen, my sisters and I forgot things all the time. My mom was a single mother to four girls and she worked full time. I grew up in the '80s and '90s when helicopter parenting wasn't a thing. My mom was too involved in her own career and personal life to find the time to remind us of when we had basketball practice or make sure our science project was due on time.

We were expected to do it on our own, that's just the way it was for most kids then. Despite having that way of thinking stamped into out brain, it didn't make me remember things any clearer than my kids do today with me giving them occasional reminders and checking in on them.

But I realized a time ago as I was sitting in the car wondering why it wouldn't start when I pressed the button and my son ran out to hand me the key fob, we all need reminders.

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There isn't a week that goes by that I don't say to my three teens, "Can you remind me I have a doctor appointment on Wednesday?" or "Can you help me remember to get chocolate chips because I said I'd make cookies for your class?"

They never respond with, "No mom, you need to remember that all on your own." My kids remind me when they think of it. It's about showing mutual respect, helping each other out, and being a generous, caring family.

Now of course I'm not talking about bending over backwards and being your child's own personal secretary. There are times when if they forget their lunch or gym clothes or that they were supposed to have a permission slip in by a certain time, they have to pay the price of forgetting.

But giving gentle reminders to help your kids out doesn't make them spoiled, or selfish, or forgetful.

Can it be frustrating? Yes.

Have I wished that they would just remember their business all on their own so I could concentrate on mine? Yes.

But then then there are days when they take care of all their own stuff and I still forget to turn off the stove burner, and I still forget when their dentist appointment is and schedule their orthodontist appointment at the same time.

And the reality is, I’ve realized giving my kids reminders almost daily is the type of parenting that works for me and my family. Even though it's very different than my parent's approach it certainly isn't wrong, and it definitely isn't going to turn them into needy, incapable adults.