Raising Children to Be Independent

One of the most important jobs a parent has, in my opinion, is to raise adults. Not just any kind of adults but adults that think for themselves, make overall wise decisions, and are a benefit to society not a problem. Whether your kid has gone to college to be a doctor or whether he quit school at age 16 to be a dishwasher is not the issue. The issue is what is he doing right now.

A little controlled adventure is a good thing for kids.

A little controlled adventure is a good thing for kids.

The 25 year old  with an engineering degree who also has a failure to launch is, to my mind anyway, less successful than the 19 year old who is flipping burgers and driving a 92 chevy truck.

But how do you get there? How do you get kids from childhood to adulthood and live to tell the tale? One day at a time.

Raising children to become independent adults is not so difficult as most people seem to think. It is called hands off parenting. I have never understood parents that can let their 2 month old cry himself to sleep and hover over their 16 year old like emotional vultures.

Here are some tips that I believe have helped my kids to be more independent.. oh.. and when I was growing up the pronoun “he” was used in writing to signify a person, male or female if you were talking about individuals of both sexes alike. Some  have been offended by my doing this. If you are offended by the word he in the following post….. get a life… that is all….

  • Allowing your child to make mistakes and reap the consequences of his mistakes goes a long way to teaching independence.
  • Don’t allow blame shifting. Sticking up for your kid is one thing… being blind to his faults is completely different. It is NOT everyone else, I promise.
  • Let him work for something he wants. Puhleeze folks. Kids who have everything handed to them have an expectation of having everything handed to them forever. It will not hurt him to pay for his own car, or buy his own jeans.
  • Allow him to be challenged.
  • Let him do something dangerous. Not like bungee jumping off the barn roof.. but geez people… let your kids climb trees, and swim in the creek. Do not pad them with memory foam when they walk out the door.
  • Don’t be available 24/7. Kids need to solve their own problems sometimes.
  • Assure him of your trust that he can figure out the solutions to some of his less dramatic issues. Phrases like ” I know you will make the right decision for you in this” will go a long way to helping him be confident in his own abilities as well.
  • Don’t over protect or smother your kids.  Balance protection and independence.
  • Don’t baby him when life punches him in the gut. Let him know you are there for him but expect him to move on.
  • Don’t bail him out of financial screw ups. It won’t hurt him to mow a few extra yards to make up the difference in something.
  • Help him to see the needs of others. We have a tithing/giving requirement at our house. You make money? You give a percentage of it to charity…period. No arguing. If there is an opportunity for my kids to work at a homeless shelter I encourage them to take it..and they have done.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes yourself, and move past them.
  • Listen to their ideas without telling them why they won’t work or why they can’t do it. My son made a raft from scrapwood and hand carved pegs when he was 13. It sunk in the middle of the creek. He swam to shore and made another that floated. I don’t know how… but it did.
  • Control does not equal self discipline. If your teenage son has a habit of checking porn sites and you control his Internet so he can’t then you are teaching him to be controlled by  something outside himself.  Find a way to work with him if possible so he can see what that isn’t a good idea and help himself to overcome.

Thoughts? I don’t have it all worked out but these are the things that have worked for us.

image: sxc

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