Creating Independent Children
I just finished reading a wonderful book, Balanced and Barefoot, which challenged me to take a step further in loosening the reigns I have on my children.
I feel like my kids are fairly independent at home. They play outside a lot, they use their imaginations to entertain themselves, they have been doing household chores for years (even washing and folding our laundry), they heat water in the kettle on the stove, they can cut up an apple with a knife, and so on. I don’t believe in doling out freedom without them first earning trust, though. I have to see responsible behavior before I let them do certain activities on their own.
I decided to let them spread their wings a little more today. I let my kids walk around the block alone. I gave them my phone (to call Dan, who is working at home, for an emergency). After two walks around the block they felt exhilarated and asked permission to walk further and cross a street. Gulp. “Yes,” I told them, reminding them of my rules. We live near two busy streets, so this made me nervous. I want them to gain independence, confidence, and life skills, so I let them go, despite my anxiety. At their age, I walked to and from school without parents and thought nothing of it, yet as a parent, this makes me very uneasy. If I let my fear of the unknown take over, they will fail to learn how to trust themselves to handle situations. If you see my kids on walks alone, they are not lost or neglected. You don’t need to call the police. They are merely growing up (and so am I).