If you’re in your early-30s or beyond, I’m sure you’ve seen a trend in the way kids are being raised today. We’ve gotten so we hover; we protect. We pick out their clothes, we choose their sports, friends, and sometimes even their classes. We don’t want to see our kids hurt, fail, be bullied, or face crises.
But are we doing them any favors?
It seems not. Based on this article,Ã‚Â Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids, it seems that we’re actually setting our kids up to fail. And badly. Not only that, we’re setting them up for a lifetime of failures … in jobs, relationships, pretty much in everything. The argument is that, by constantly giving them trophies, protection, coddling, and no sense of failing at anything, we’re promoting an expectation of success … and that it will come easily.
So, how do we teach them what really happens in the grown-up world? We let them fail. And we let them claw their way back when they fall … or, at least, in theory.
Jennifer Wolf has an excellent piece on how to teach independence to your child at any age, and it’s broken down in this wonderful format starting with infants and going all the way through teenagers. Her ideas range from letting children pick out clothes to holding them accountable for getting up on-time.
Lori Radun wrote Teaching Children Independence and Responsibility and she talks about things like refusing to step in and believing in your childÃ¢â‚¬â€no matter how small or large his goals are.
And finally, Lindsey Graham has absolutely put words to my own thinking … right down to letting her kids pick out their own clothes, even if they don’t match.
With my oldest, I’ve always pushed for her to be independent, even when I wasn’t trying, and frankly, much to my peer’s dismay. A little regression … ten years ago, a friend of mine repeatedly told me I was making a huge mistake by letting my then two-year-old pick out her own clothes everyday.
I didn’t care that she was wearing striped tights with argyle sweaters and polka dot shoes. She was dressing herself.Ã‚Â And even though I wasn’tÃ‚Â tryingÃ‚Â to make her independent (I was thinking more along the lines of, “it’s one less thing I have to do”) it worked.
She’sÃ‚Â veryÃ‚Â independent now and has an excellent sense of what she feels is right and wrong. In fact, she’s one of the few students in her grade that will question what her teachers are telling her, in a polite and diplomatic way (and as we all know, teachers are notÃ‚Â alwaysÃ‚Â right) … a trait that was commended by her teachers at recent parent-teacher conferences.
As she’s gotten older, I’ve let her swim coach tell her that she’s not putting in enough … and though she’s come out of the pool more than once, I’ve kept my mouth shut. Why? Because I know he’s right … and so does she. In the end, she’s become a stronger swimmer with more drive because she has an expectation that she wants to meet.
But truthfully, with our now two-year-old, I’m definitely not doing so great. In my case, I suspect it’s because I know she’s our last and I want to keep her “little” for as long as possible. I’ve watched our oldest grow up right before my very eyes. With my husband, he’s definitely a “helicopter parent.” Neither of us is right; this much I know for sure.
So, how do you teach independence? Do you see an obvious difference in your approach to parenting between your oldest and youngest children? And, most importantly, if you do foster independence, have you been criticized by other parents that don’t share your views?
photo credit: healthyvending