Whether you’ve just had your first baby, are buying that first school uniform or celebrating that landmark thirteenth birthday as your son or daughter moves from childhood into adolescence, it’s a fact that our children seem to grow up far too quickly and the day when they leave home comes all too soon.
Before this day arrives however it is vitally important that we prepare them for adult life and that means teaching them to be independent children.
This doesn’t mean that your children have to be able to survive without other people or that they to be equipped with the emotional and intellectual values needed to get by without any input from others. It does however mean that we have to equip them with enough independence to be able to think for themselves and to make their own decisions without being unduly influenced by others.
The Parenting Balance: When Should You Encourage them to be independent children?
As human beings we are continually being presented with choices, many of which are difficult and some of which are unpleasant. With each decision we need to make we can simply follow along and do what everyone else does or we can think about our options and make reasoned decision based upon what we believe to be in our own best interests.
The problem is that the ability to make decisions is not something which we develop naturally but is a skill that we need to learn and practice and which, in large measure, we learn from our parents.
In learning to deal with choices we will of course make mistakes and all too frequently discover that we would almost certainly achieved better results if we had taken the advice we were being given and not adopted an ‘I know what I’m doing’ attitude. Nevertheless, as we practice handling a variety of different choices we hopefully learn enough to equip us with sufficient independence to permit us to strike out on our own.
For parents, and especially parents dealing with teenagers, the biggest problem is to know when to stand back and let our children make their own mistakes and when to intervene.
Many parents know only too well just how it feels to give a son or daughter the benefit of your advice and to know that they are not going to heed it. On the one hand, if you step back you know that they are going to fall flat on their face, which is not an easy thing to watch when you’ve spent the last few years providing a safety net to stop them from doing just that. On the other hand, if you intervene to stop them from making a mistake then they are not going to learn the consequences of making a poor decision.
So how do you get the balance right?
Well, although it can be difficult, you have to separate out those mistakes which could potentially harm your children, or result in a poor outcome from which it would be difficult to recover, and those decisions which will produce a poor outcome, but for which corrective action can be taken.
In a case where your child is about to make a decision which you know will result in irreparable danger then you should intervene. But, if the decision will result in a situation which can be recovered, then you should stand back and let things run their course, being prepared to offer further advice and help once your child realizes his or her mistake.
There are many different ways to learn life’s lessons but there is no better way to learn than through experience and our children need to be given the opportunity to learn by making their own mistakes. These life lessons will quickly help your young ones to become independent children and give them a solid foundation to grow into life.