Raising Independent Kids: A Double-Edged Sword
NOTE: As with all of the posts here on our Splog…we are simply sharing ideas and personal experiences. We believe it is up to each parent to choose what is best for him/herself and his/her children. We are not saying our way is the “right” way — not at all. We are simply sharing in the hopes of stirring up thoughts, feelings, and analysis inside of YOU, to get you thinking (and acting on) what’s best for you and your family.
When my husband and I first talked about having kids, we had a conversation about what we wanted for our children, and what kind of parents we wanted to be. Do you remember the time before you had kids? Remember how you had such lofty ideas about parenting and how it would be when you were raising your own children. I’m saying this tongue-in-cheek, of course, because if you’re anything like me, you had grand ideas but no concrete clue as to how to carry it out. Before we had kids, it was easy to judge other parents and think to ourselves, “Well, that’s just not going to fly in MY house,” or “My children will never be allowed to act like that.” And then your first kid hits the terrible twos (or threes) and reality sinks in. *sigh*
But nevertheless, my hubby and I both agreed that we wanted to raise independent children who could think for themselves and not be dependent upon others to support them. We hoped for intelligent, creative little leaders who would emblazon a trail of their own, free from the confines of “what other people think.”
But along the way, we discovered one problem: we didn’t think about what might be involved in parenting such a strong-willed and independent thinker.
That’s the rub, isn’t it? Teach them to think for themselves, and they will question authority (especially yours!) And unless you have them enrolled in an alternative school where independent thinking is encouraged, they may wind up ticking off the teachers who wish to simply follow the lesson plan with minimal interruptions.
This is the double-edged sword of raising independent children who can think for themselves.
Would we have done anything different if we had known this back when we were cradling our 9 lb, 12 oz oldest (now age 11) in our arms? Looking back, I don’t think so.
Because I can see all that we have learned from our three children (and more happening every day!) and through their journey of independence and critical thinking and self-reliance, we have grown as parents as well. I’ve had to release my need to control (if you ever came to my house, I would warn you: my dishes are done by an 11 year old and an 8 year old, so before you eat off of something, make sure it’s clean! This would not have been the case pre-kids…a dirty knife in the drawer or a plate with food stuck to it in the cabinet would have been mortifying for me a few years ago.) I’ve had to learn to let go (our oldest daughter took her first flight all by herself this year!) I’ve had to learn to step back (our middle child dances competitively and as much as I want her to be completely prepared, I’ve learned to back off with the first gentle, “Mom. It’s ok, I’ve got this,” which prevents the conversation from escalating to smothering…or belligerence.)
I’ve learned TONS by doing my best to raise strong, independent, self-guided (and did I mention amazing!?) children, and I personally wouldn’t want it any other way.