Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Independence Day

by Ronald A. Rowe | July 5th, 2010 | Elementary

In honor of Independence Day this weekend, I thought I’d post about another kind of independence. Children start exerting their independence at an early age, and continue to push the boundaries until they leave the nest.

There are so many landmarks along the road to independence, and it is important to keep our children moving along the path at an appropriate pace. For some, that may mean pushing your child forward against their resistance. But for most of us, it is a matter of holding them back just enough so that their ability can keep pace with their ever-increasing independence.

Both my sons went through the famous “I can do it” phase like clockwork at 2 years old. Opening their juice box, turning on the TV, whatever they could do to affect their environment, they wanted to do on their own. Next came “You wait here,” when they were old enough to wander off to interact with the world on their own, separated from Mom or Dad by a few feet.

On and on it goes, from the day they can buckle their own seatbelt right up to the day they begin driving on their own and beyond. Our job as parents is to let them stretch their wings without getting too far ahead of themselves.

It doesn’t help that TV and movies constantly portray kids getting along just fine without any visible parental support or supervision.

It is a sad reality of our generation that we have to place more restrictions on our children than our parents did and their parents before them. I’m sure my dad was allowed to walk to the grocery store on his own when he was six. But in the scarier world of the 21st Century, the risk is just too high. The temptation is certainly to err on the side of caution.

The important thing is to seize those opportunities for your children to safely expand their horizons, one baby step at a time. By capitalizing on those precious moments when we can say “yes,” we can cushion the frequent instances when prudence dictates that we must say “no.”

Comments on Independence Day