I’ve had to be a different kind of parent to my teens than I am to my youngest son who’s 5 years old. Circumstances were the main reason being that my husband and I were both working and at the time were pretty much on our own. As early as 6 years old my kids were self reliant and independent. Our work shifts didn’t make it possible for us to be there when they prepared for school.
I would call them when it was time for them to get ready and they would take a bath on their own, dress up and feed themselves. I’d then call them to check that they were all okay and to give them the usual reminders of making sure they have all their things and locking the door. A large part of it working was that we were able to teach the kids how to fend for themselves. We also made sure that not too many people were aware of our situation. At the time we lived in a pretty secure gated area. We also worked closely with the school and made sure that the school service was accredited. I made a point of doing a background check and meeting the driver and backrider as they would be picking up the kids and dropping them off. Luckily, my schedule allowed me to get home right before they did.
However, when we moved and also had a change in work schedules yet again, this time sometimes we wouldn’t be there when they left for school or got home. Trust had a lot to do with it working like it did, as well. We had to trust that we taught the children well, that they were capable of making decisions and arming them with basic knowledge so that they knew what to do in certain situations. Of course, we had constant communication but I admit I put alot on their shoulders at an early age.
There are pros and cons to raising independent children. They can think for themselves, they can make decisions, they’re more confident but they can also be over confident and question you. As teenagers, it’s that time in their lives where they’re yearning for more freedom, responsibility and the chance to prove their worth. The teenage years are definitely the hardest so far. They’re not little kids anymore that you can get mad at and expect you to be followed at once. They ponder, they feel, they act on what they think is right. The hard part about it is that it may differ from what you’ve said or what you wanted to happen.
One of my biggest realizations is that I have to allow them to make mistakes. I can’t always save them from situations even if I know it’ll turn out bad. The one thing I also hold to firmly in my parenting is that they have to realize consequences and I think in this area I can be firmer than most parents. Why do I say that? Let’s say they lose their lunchbox because they irresponsibly misplaced it. If that lunchbox cost me Php100, that Php100 will be deducted from their baon. I could easily buy another one but they have to feel the impact of that loss and the importance of being more responsible. Almost a 100% it won’t happen again.
With my youngest, I’m having a bit of a struggle developing independence like I did with my teens. The reason being that I’ma work at home mom and I’m here 24/7 for my little guy. I’ve been able to teach him how to be independent with life skills and such but putting it to the test and actually having to be on his own, I think he’s behind his brother and sister. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. I know I can still teach him how to be independent but he’ll probably test that on his own when he’s much older. He won’t have to prepare on his own in the mornings and go home to an empty house because I’ll be there.
The only thing that saddens me about having independent children is that I don’t feel as needed as I once did though that’s a good thing. I feel like I’m getting an early on-set of empty nest syndrome but that’s life and if I can let my children go off into the world confident and knowledgeable then’ll I’ll have done my job.