“Mom, you have let me help you so many times! What’s the point of teaching me how to do it if you never let me do it on my own?!”
My eight-year old had a point. I’d asked her to wait until I was done working so that I could supervise her culinary endeavor in the kitchen. I thought it was a reasonable request—I just wanted to be in the room to help—but she was right. If the point of teaching a child a skill is to have them use it, then I should let her use it.
While we are celebrating our country’s independence from what you could call an overbearing parent who made all the decisions for the colonists and didn’t give them a say, we can also encourage and celebrate our children’s independence. Letting children have choices, encouraging them to make mistakes and learn from them, and giving them opportunities to thrive on their own are all part of parenting. It’s hard to let go, as I discussed in last month’s eNews. I have to fight my own urge to be a “snowplow parent” who pushes all obstacles out of the way. As you read this, my kids are at sleepaway camp for two weeks—a first for them and for me. I didn’t grow up going to sleepaway camp as my husband did, but I had a taste of it with Girl Scout campouts. I want this for them, they need this, and yet it’s still hard. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Red Tricycle has suggestions for encouraging independence at every age and stage. Your toddler isn’t going to bake cookies on their own, but they can help wipe down the table or pick out their own clothes. There are ways to give them the scaffolding around a new experience and letting them learn or do it on their own.
One benefit of all this? Confident, independent children who bring you warm chocolate chip cookies while you’re working!
Here’s to celebrating independence,