Independence is especially important for our different-brained children because they tend to come with these fatalistic, self-hating cores :(. If they are going to be independent and move out of our houses, they will need to be prepared for mistakes, successes, and everything in between!
I’m totally not reinventing the wheel here, but as I watched my child currently labeled “Asperger’s Syndrome” research a missing part for our scooter, email the company to see how we go about getting this missing piece, and then having him confirm that they’re going to send the replacement part to us for free, I realized I must have done something right in order to foster his independence. GO ME!
Celebrate Your Own Successes AND Your Failures
I know, right? But I’m really for real on this one and it’s super duper uper important! This action is mainly about modeling the behavior you want your children to learn and use for the rest of their lives.
Early on I saw that Michael needed to understand more about this whole human condition thing, so I worked super hard to admit my successes and admit my mistakes in front of him.
I’d say things like, “We’re going to fail and isn’t that totally awesome?” I wanted to model that behavior of celebrating all the different aspects of life (successes, failures, and the in-between), and what better way than out loud, in front of my children. We’re human after all.
I’ll never forget the time I spilled coffee on my shirt while taking them to school and claiming, “Y’all, I’ve made eight glorious mistakes already today and it’s not even nine a.m. yet!” I know they heard me because they were trapped in the car with me and I’m a loud talker.
Create a Safe Environment Where They Can Explore and Discover
I created a safe environment for my kids so they could explore without getting hurt or me yelling at them about touching something I didn’t want them messing with.
True story: I walked into a playroom one time where there was this gorgeous thin glass-based lamp, which was beautifully displayed, on a table near the toy bins. I was like, “That’s a gorgeous lamp you have there, but I’m not sure my kids aren’t going to break it.” Read between the lines: “Are you trying to kill my children with that freaking lamp so close to the toy bins, lady?”
The chipper designer home parent replied, “Oh, it’s totally OK if it breaks; it’s just a lamp.”
I was nervous the entire time my kids were there, so here’s the best piece of advice from this article you’re gonna get: Don’t decorate your kids playroom with expensive fragile glass lamps because if that thing gets knocked over, not only will you have shattered glass that will make its way into every fiber shaft of that rug in your PLAYROOM, but you will have to vacuum those shards out of the blood spill from whatever kid fell onto the lamp. [Please ignore my shaking head and rolled-back eyes as I recall this memory].
Love Your Child Unconditionally
Oh, it seems so easy to say, but are you really doing this? Well, you’re probably loving your children more than your heart can even hold, but I think the question is: Are you showing your children how much you love them?
One way you can show them right now is to take the few minutes today or tomorrow (and every day really) and hug them in a warm and loving embrace. Then look them in the eyes and say, “I’m so freaking happy to be able to raise you and have you for my child! How did I get so lucky? I love that I’m your parent!”
Because it’s true–it is an absolute honor and a privilege to be the guiding post for a human being that will grow up and enter our world as an adult. Congratulations!
And the biggest action I feel that contributed to my children’s independence …
Let Them Choose (and don’t say a darn thing about it except “Are you ready to go?”)
Check this out:
This is a typical outfit for my son when we go on casual errands. I have rules around going to graduations, nice dinners, and even with people who care about what other people look like, but if we’re just going on a quick trip to pick something up at the mall, or whatever, I let them wear what they want. It’s important to be comfortable and happy with what you’re wearing.
I do have the superpower of not caring much at all about appearance, and some of you reading this might gasp that I’m not teaching my children about proper attire, but my kids have a very solid foundation of looking good when it matters . . . and having fun at the mall when it doesn’t IMHO*.
Thanks for being such a great parent,
*For those of you who may not be hip to the lingo and don’t want to have to Google, IMHO stands for In My Humble Opinion.
Got stories about your kids making their own choices and you cringing but celebrating them anyway? Let’s hear it!