Aiming for Independent Kids

In a couple of my classes we’ve spent a little time discussing helicopter parents and how they negatively affect the maturity growth of their children. This caused me to think about my kids and how I attended every activity they were involved in when they were younger compared to how much time I spend at their activities today. What I realized is that there is a difference between spending time with your children while allowing them to explore -vs- controlling children’s activities, friends, and plans. I know I’ve been accused of being an insensitive and/or uncaring mother because I wasn’t as “involved” in their activities as those other parents thought I should be, but really I just don’t think we saw eye to eye. I wanted my kids to make mistakes and learn from them without me monitoring or cleaning up after them—after all I only have these kids for less than 2 decades and I didn’t want them to make those same mistakes when they could be held legally accountable.

For example when my kids were younger I would attend every activity, but I would also allow them to make mistakes and then guide them toward apology or retribution. When they attended Tae Kwon Do I would silently sit back and observe as the Sensei spoke roughly or physically moved them to prove a point (this was after all an inner city martial arts instructor and he didn’t play around). I don’t remember ever challenging or screaming at the soccer refs when they called fouls on my kids. Plus, when one of my kids would take something from the store without permission or payment I would make them go back and publicly apologize. (one time a manager scolded me for forcing my crying child to apologize for “stealing” a lollipop–I simply told her that we could do this now or she could pay for my kid’s legal fees later–thankfully most managers were very receptive and either overcharged my kids for the item or made them do some sort of task, but this didn’t happen but once or twice because they learned early on that Mom doesn’t play around when it comes to stealing.)

In my opinion letting other adults direct my children’s growth was a healthy experience for them and at those times I was there mainly to monitor their safety while supporting them emotionally. I also tried not to hang over their shoulders to insure they were doing exactly what I wanted them to do and I think this resulted in having teens who will generally listen to me without too many arguments. I’m thankful for this especially when I tell them they can’t do something or to stay close to me when my gut says there is a dangerous situation. Perhaps this is because they know my commands stem from safety concerns and not controlling tactics.

Now I have teens that travel all over large cities and/or the country by themselves and I am not fearful of where they are, who they are with, or what they may do. Will they make mistakes? Yes, but hopefully not illegally or immorally. I’m just happy that I generally do not worry about them when they do leave the house because I really do feel like they are pretty well prepared to face the world solo without making some of the immature mistakes many young people make when they first live on their own. Heaven knows I’ve placed them in enough situations across the country to prepare them for a variety of social interactions.

Well those are just my rambling thoughts this morning which I don’t know why, but I felt compelled to share. 🙂

Hug your kiddos today and let them explore a little!

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