MamaBlogger365 – On Self-Reliance by Jennifer Covello

Recently my son was tasked with selling tickets for a car wash to support his basketball team. Typically he (and my daughter) has relied on me to do these types of things – reaching out to friends and family to sell everything from wrapping paper to Girl Scout cookies.

This time, however, he became increasingly bothered that the tickets had not been sold despite me having reached out a mere 24 hours earlier. “Did you tell them the money is for our uniforms?” he asked. “Yes, I did”, I replied. “Can you ask them again?” he responded.

As I was about to say, “Sure”, something came over me and I did something I don’t normally do. I told my son that if he was unhappy with my efforts to help him, that he should do it himself. I handed him my phone and suggested he call everyone he knew. Within ten minutes he had all of his tickets sold. He could not have been more proud. In listening to him speak to people; it was I who was proud of him for his clear and confident stance while asking for their help. Had I gone ahead and re-emailed my peeps, I would’ve denied my son this moment of pride. Rather than accomplishing this task himself, he would’ve looked to me to do it once again.

As a full-time working mother with a tight schedule, it is sometimes easier to do things myself rather than taking the time to show my kids how to do it and supervising them through to completion as they are learning. I suspect there are other busy moms reading this that feel the same way.

Think about it. You want help cleaning the kitchen, but the time it takes to teach your children how to scrape the plates, load the dishwasher, put the leftovers away, wipe the  counters and then scrub the pots and pans, you could’ve done it yourself in less time. And in today’s time-starved culture, saving five minutes is a big deal.

But what does this teach them? It teaches them that it’s “mom’s job” to clean the kitchen or worse, it teaches them to rely on someone else to do things for them, they can just show up and things are magically done. Rooms are clean, laundry is done.

I’m convinced that our harried lives have led to this lack of self-reliance in our children. Two working parents have no time to clean the house, so they hire a cleaning service. There’s no time for lawn maintenance, so a landscaper is brought in to do the job. When things break, a professional is called to fix it. The result? Our children have no idea how to clean their room, cut the lawn, or make a minor repair.

In today’s economy, some of the above luxuries have been halted in many households due to tight budgets. In my own home, the days of having a cleaning service have been long gone since being laid off several years ago. Today, Saturday mornings are spent cleaning the house and doing laundry. It is not a happy time, but I know that one day, my children will be grateful that they know how to wash their own clothes, clean a bathroom properly, and change their sheets. It’s these little acts of self-reliance that will make them independent of me and others and have them be able to take charge of their own lives.

I can still remember my parents, mostly my mother, saying to me over and over, “I don’t want you to rely on anyone to take care of you.” This message of self-reliance still rings true for me today. While there are times when assistance is needed, for the most part, I can take care of my children and my home. I feel confident in my abilities to take care of things, but I also know my limitations and call in the troops from time-to-time.

This is the lesson I want for my children. There is power in self-reliance. My hope is that this simple fundraiser taught my son this lesson.

Contact Information:
Jennifer Covello
“The Purposeful Parent”
Linked In:

Jennifer Covello

Jennifer Covello is The Purposeful Parent, an award-winning author and owner of Frittabello baby gifts.  Her passion for motherhood is evident through her writings and her speaking on topics that impact moms and children. As a divorced mother of two children, Ms. Covello continually searches for the lessons her own children teach her along her parenting journey.

The Museum of Motherhood sponsors the MamaBlogger365 project across the M.O.M. blog, Mamapalooza, and Mamazina. Visit us New York City – Monday-Friday from 10-6 and Sunday (Family Day!) from 11-5: art exhibits, play space, moms groups, Meet the Expert series, special events and performances, and more! More info at

Photo credit: kakisky | MorgueFile

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