Saturday, July 2, 2016

Independence Day is Every Day!

Here in the U.S. of A. we are celebrating Independence Day!  What is independence?  The dictionary defines it as freedom from the control, influence, support, or aid of others.  As a country, we are still figuring things out, but how are you doing within your family? Are you fostering independence in your kids?

At every age and developmental stage there are things our kids should be able to do on their own.  It's a long road to adulthood, but shorter than it looks.  We have to begin the process early on so that once they get to the later teen years and are looking for more independence, we want them to have had a lot of practice.

  • In infancy, we need to teach our babies to play by themselves for periods of time and to fall asleep on their own.
  • As toddlers, we want them to dress themselves, feed themselves and to take on small responsibilities like putting dirty clothes in the hamper or putting their toys away. 
  • During the school-age years, we want kids to do their homework themselves, to remember their jackets at school, to help make their lunches and to help more around the house (increasing each year)
  • During the middle school years we want our tweens to be independent students (asking for help when needed, of course), to wash their own gym clothes and to take more responsibilities around the house - setting/clearing the table for dinner, folding their laundry, yard work, etc...
  • During the high school years, kids should be doing their own laundry, beginning to manage their money (with guidance), making business-type phone calls, managing their time, and many other skills that they will need once they go to college or move out of the home, so that they can navigate life without our control or aid.

Many parents struggle to encourage independence in their kids because they fear they will no longer be needed or they fear their child will fail.  The truth is, we are working to put ourselves out of a job, but not to end the relationship!  We want to love on our kids forevermore and that's great! We just don't want them to "need" us to get through each day.  If you do want that, you need to ask yourself why and what fulfillment is lacking in your own life.  Don't ask your kids to fill you up - you fill yourself up and give your kids the space to make a life for themselves.

Wishing you balance,
Bette Alkazian, LMFT

No comments: