Sep 3, 2011

Teaching children independence

My parents and I live five blocks apart in a small town. Today my husband and I were busy painting the house and my son got bored, so I had him walk to my parents home so he could hang out with them. On the way to my house, he called his other Grandmother because he got bored. His other Grandmother was a bit nervous that M was walking the 5 blocks by himself.

crossing the street on crosswalk
I thought back to when I was going into 7th Grade, which is the grade my son is in. Not only did I walk home from school which was more than 5 blocks, I also walked to the mall, library and grocery store. There were still dangers when I was younger, but children were more independent in the 70s and 80s.

Last year when my son went into 6th grade, I decided to let him walk home from school, which is 3 blocks away. Some parents still pick their children up, while other parents let their children walk many blocks home. I could go and pick my son up, but I am trying to teach him independence. There are 12 year old children that feel uncomfortable crossing the streets by themselves.

As parents, part of our job is to teach independence. We need to let them grow up to be adults who can live on their own. The ultimate goal of raising children is that someday they will go into the work force and eventually have a life where they make their own decisions. As parents, we should be letting them make their own decisions sometimes, based on their age. I am still learning about what I can allow my son to do because the parent part wants to protect him from everything. I don't want him to make a bad decision. I still need to keep an eye on him and don't let him have free-range, but at the same time, if he wants to go to a friend's, I let him go. I hope that he will always make decisions I can be proud of, but the logical part of my brain knows that children mess up sometimes.

I can remember when my son was much younger... still in diapers. He came to me about everything. He would tell me when he had to go to the bathroom. When he was scared, he would run and hide behind me. When he was sick, he would climb into bed with my husband and I. He would also cuddle every night when I was putting him to sleep. He would run up to my husband full speed when my husband came home to kiss him and hug him. Those are times we will never get back. We will never be everything in his life again.

If you are a parent, is it hard for you to let your child have independence? Do you remember when you are a child and try to gauge what you did as a child to what you allow your child to do?
Photo: stock.xchng

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