Independence has a taken on a new meaning for me now that my children are older. As we speak, my second born son is in Oklahoma on a weekend road trip. He called my wife from a friend’s house and told her he wasn’t sure how to get home since he misplaced his phone. She had to explain to him how we did it in the olden days with an actual paper map. He was simultaneously amazed and petrified. It’s ironic how we spend so much of our time controlling and doing for – when our main goal is to get our children to the point where they can do for themselves.
With my oldest graduated from college, employed, and living in another city, he has proven to me he can make it on his own. He will make some good choices and poor ones, as should be expected. But, he can survive. I do, however, wonder if I provided my other three sons enough independence to be prepared for the time when they leave our nest.
Independence is hampered by control, which is a huge issue for me as a parent. When we control all variables, we rob our kids the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Parents, start when they are young, and encourage your children to do things for themselves (picking out their own clothes, keeping track of their backpacks, etc.) Don’t get me wrong – It is much easier to do these things for them. However, that strategy will work against our long-term goal, which, of course, is independence. This is especially important in the teen years. Continue to guide and teach, but allow choices to provide your children with natural consequences to their shape behavior.
I know Micah will get home…eventually. I only pray we have given him and his brothers enough independence during the formative years to help them transition well into the wonderful world of adulthood.