Flying Solo: Raise an Independent Kid

7. We can't make our children independent.

A high-school swimming coach told me that her tenth-graders show up at meets without their goggles and say, "My mom must not have put them in my gym bag." When 15-year-olds can't remember their goggles, is it because they are disorganized or because their mother is doing their remembering for them? Every child needs to practice being independent, and every parent needs to practice letting her child be independent. Independence is like high jumping: You have to run and jump and sometimes fail, and then put the bar back up and run and jump again. As a parent, you'll wince when your kids hit that bar, but you can't jump for them. Ultimately, they'll have a lot of sweet moments without you there to see them. But if you believe that your job is to raise your children so they will be ready to leave you, you need to be able to let them go and watch from a distance.

Originally published in the May 2012 issue of Parents magazine.

From the book Homesick and Happy, by Michael Thompson, published by Ballantine Books, May 2012. Copyright © 2012 by Michael Thompson. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Related Features:

Parents Are Talking

Add a Comment