miss dependence

There was a blogosphere discussion a month or two ago about independence–and how much to give kids, when. Most of that discussion centered around kids who were largely younger than mine to elementary school-aged kids. I can’t remember exactly where it started–I know that at one point,  Jody weighed in.

The thing it got me thinking about was not so much about what independence to grant my kids, but how much my kids–the Bee in particular–cling to dependence. And wondering what it is that we’re doing or not doing to encourage that clinging.

I”m not really sure at what point I should push the Bee to do things like stay at home by herself for 20 minutes while I run to the store, or getting her to walk over to a friend’s house a couple of blocks away, instead of me walking her there. It’s a delicate balance, the giving of independence.

It’s delicate partly because I trust the Bee to be by herself in the house for 20 minutes. But I don’t trust her to stay in the house with the Potato for 20 minutes. Part of that is due to my own history as a big sister who got left in charge of her little brothers a ridiculous number of times. But most of that lack of trust is based on the fact that they escalate their fights so incredibly quickly–in fact, for a while, I was leaving them alone in the car while I went to the ATM–but stopped because every single time I came back, they were punching each other.

I can’t tell how I can give the message, “hey, I trust you,” without it coming off like, “hey, I trust you…but not that much.” So what ends up happening is that the only time I try to push her to be more independent is when he’s at school and she’s home, or he’s at a playdate or something.

And don’t worry, I know that soon enough, I won’t have to fret about how to get her to push for more independence.

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April 5, 2009. thoughtful parenting. 4 comments.