Thinking about what to write about this week it seemed appropriate that I touch on a topic that is always a challenge for parents, ‘knowing when to let go of our children’.
As I watched parents leave their children for either their first day of Kindergarten or Year Seven, I was reminded of the many times I have done the same thing. Some of you may not know that I have parented six children of my own across two generations and have navigated the tricky path as a single parent of four teenage children through separation and divorce before marrying again and having two more children. This experience has been good training for my current role as Principal.
Having reflected at length on how I managed the many different stages of my children’s lives through what was at times a fairly challenging life, there are a few tips I would like to share
To become a capable adult, children must learn to:
- depend on us less and take on more responsibility
- make decisions and solve problems
- work out life values
- form their own identity.
For some of us ‘letting go of our children’ can be quite a confronting idea. Most of us want to keep them safe by limiting their involvement in risky behavior and and while this is a natural response it is important for all of us remember that children need to make some mistakes, to explore and have new experiences.
As children learn from life’s lessons we need to find a balance between our own concerns and our children’s needs. From my experience and my observation of others this is best done by maintaining a positive relationship with your child and having consistent and agreed boundaries.
To establish these boundaries it is important that we acknowledge that children have to work hard to balance the expectations of family members with the expectations of friends and we need to find the mid-point between their need for parental guidance and their growing independence.
RAISING INDEPENDENT CHILDREN: SOME TIPS
Show your child lots of love and support
Your love and support are essential for your child’s self-esteem. Young people who feel good about themselves often have more confidence to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives.
You can show your love and support by:
- taking a genuine interest in your child’s interests, hobbies and friends
- making time to listen when your child needs to talk
- giving your child space and privacy
- regularly reinforcing their sense of belonging by telling them you love them
- respecting your child’s feelings and opinions
- establishing clear and fair family rules
- treating your child in a way that’s appropriate for her stage
- helping your child develop decision-making skills
- providing safe opportunities for your child to exercise independence
None of this is easy but the experience of helping a child transition from a sometimes tumultuous childhood to healthy adulthood is well worth our effort and time.
10 February 2017