Independent People Emerge

Artwork from 14.5’s HS art show

It’s something I’ve known for a while but probably didn’t want to admit to myself until I was forced to – and somewhere during the high school art show this week – that moment came:  my kids are truly independent people.

As a parent you watch with some amazement as your children develop personality.  I’m pretty sure the first time we noted that was in a restaurant setting where our kids expressed choices on what they wanted.  You could see it at that moment. Independent people emerging.

This week at the high school 14.5 had a dozen or so art projects on display – and its while I was walking around with her showing me the projects and listening to her describe the assignments – I realized her independent person had fully emerged.

I think the timing was about the same when I realized my older one was an independent person too – but I am pretty sure I never admitted it to myself.

What I mean though is not that I am no longer needed (although that day is coming).  What I see from the girls is they can make their own choices.  They know what they like, and then can express it.

16.5 is an exceptional writer and story-teller.  She can express her thoughts and feelings with symbols and directly.

14.5’s voice clearly emerges through her art work  You can see her expressing herself and her feelings.

Both of my girls are independent people (and they still order what they want when we’re out to eat).

As a parent I have to be amazed and in awe that I can see this.  I think it’s what parents want when they start out – and to see it manifest is rewarding.  Independent people emerged in my house and in their lives.  My hope as a parent is they can nurture their ability to share their expressions and thrive at it throughout their lives.

One day, perhaps they’ll have the honor of watching independent people emerge within their children too….

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The New Independence

Raising Independent ChildrenAs the girls get older and grow into the teen years, one of the things I hope to impart upon them is a sense of independence.  When I was their age, that mean riding my bicycle delivering newspapers and generally pushing the boundaries.  While my girls push the boundaries – they seem to practice the new independence.

In a lot of ways, when I was growing up my bicycle meant freedom and independence.  My bike took me all over the neighborhood, and when I was 14 or 15 it let me get my first job delivering first the New York Daily News and then Newsday.

With my bike and a few dollars in my pocket – I had my independence.  Yes, I still lived at home.  Yes, I still counted on my mom for food.  But in a lot of ways I controlled my own destiny.

And it’s not a freedom I want to give anytime soon.  And it’s a feeling I want to instill into my kids.

But times are different.  For my girls, a bicycle does not mean the same freedom.  Last night as I was driving home after dropping off one-off a friend of 14.0 we witnessed a group of 10 or more kids cross a four lane road without even looking.  I stopped, an oncoming car had to jam on their breaks.

Yeah, there was a bit of pack mentality in action.  But also, its a different environment to be romping around in.

So today is homecoming in our district.  14.0 is off with friends (and a boy) and 12.0 is with her friends.  I know everything is going to be OK – because I know my girls know right from wrong.  But I’m not sure they will ever had that sense of independence and freedom I had at their age.  This could be the new independence – or there may still be a chapter yet to be written.

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Independence and Letting Go

One of the big wins of the summer (and one I was counting on) from  sending the girls to summer camp was giving them a more solid sense of independence, and the knowledge they can do things on their own.  In this vein I am talking about getting milk or juice, preparing their own breakfast etc.  Kind of every day things that at some point get transitioned from parents doing to kids fending for them self.

I’ve been intentionally reluctant to pull back some of the things the girls take on now-largely because I want to support their independence and foster it.

The downside though is sometimes having to show a better path to getting something accomplished-and trying not to cross the line from being supportive to being judgemental.  As I’ve seen-especially when I am not getting enough sleep, its a pretty fine line to walk.

From mundane things-mixing a pitcher of iced tea to more complex like doing the dishes after dinner, I have the girls taking these tasks on, mostly happily, but sometimes the path to completion requires some serious lip biting on my part.

I’d love for them to simply learn their way through the process-but that’s just not likely.  Instead, it’s walking that line-and trying to stay on the fostering path, and not cross over to judgemental.

I suppose, that’s argument enough to get more sleep.

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