Friday, April 24, 2009

Teach Your Child Independence

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When Brayden was a day or two old, my Mom said to me, "You have to realize that your goal as you raise him is to become independent of you. You are preparing him to be able to leave you someday and take care of himself."

I loved this thought. My parents have always been so well-adjusted to my big milestones like driving, dating, graduating, moving out, getting a degree, getting married, having a baby...These have all been happy moments in life for them. I am sure they have had their pangs of sadness as they saw I was getting older, perhaps even tears, but in my presence it was a happy time.

Some parents out there seem to want their children to be very dependent on them. They don't want to let go and allow the child to grow up and function on his own. I understand the reason. You love your child unconditionally. You have spent so much time caring for this child. You have sacrificed so much. When Kaitlyn moved to a toddler bed, I cried for a minute (though not in front of her). I get that. However, we have to let go. I personally think if you allow your child to grow up and move on, he will happily come around to visit more often, whereas if you cling to your child and mourn his every milestone, he will likely try to develop some space between the two of you so he can move on in his life.

This is one thing that really attracted me to Babywise in the first place. Babywise is about giving your child the tools to survive without you. The -wise books help you teach your child how to think for himself and how to make moral decisions. It helps you raise your child to be a functioning member of society who can contribute positively to the state of the world. It isn't about fulfilling your own desires for feeling needed. It isn't about indulging your child's every whim. It isn't about giving him an easy childhood free of difficulty or disappointment.

You only have your child at home with you for about 18-20 years, dependent on culture. He has a long life to live beyond that. Be sure that as you parent him, you look beyond today to help him learn skills for tomorrow. Keep that long-term perspective. You can then enjoy your "child" on the level of friend, and joy in seeing him in his success as an adult.

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Rhianna said...

I am starting to feel like a failure in this area. I am sure at 8 months, my daughter isn't scarred, but we are going through serious "mommy-only" time. She refuses to enjoy anyone else. If I am anywhere near or if she sees me leave, she freaks. It is so difficult. I am not sure how to deal with it OR how to work through it... I feel like it will last forever. I always wanted a child who loved everyone else, not just me. She won't even go for daddy right now! Ahh... any suggestions?

Rachel Stella said...

So true about how kids want to return home when their parents give them space and vice verse. I know several people that moved across the country simply so their parents would stop bugging them constantly. So sad!

Julia said...


I think it's just a phase that some kids go through. my daughter at about 7-9 months old, wasn't too fond of anyone else. it would take several hours or a day to warm up to family members who don't see her often. then around 13/14 months, she went through a phase where she would cry when i left the house for work. Now, she happily says, "Bye Mom!" so i think it's just something that she will outgrow.

Plowmanators said...

Rhianna, don't feel like a failure. Different children are more prone to separation anxiety.

I think a responsible thing to do is to sit back and eveluate the situation. Is there anything you have done to contribute to the problem? Evaluate that so you can know if you need to change anything. Kaitlyn at one point was really clingy to me and I realized it was because I was the only one who cared for her. DH took Brayden and I took Kaitlyn. Once I realized that, we set aside certain things for DH to do for Kaitlyn each day. One was to feed her dinner each night (spoon feed). Another was to put her to bed each night. So analyze that.

If there is nothing you can think of that has contributed, then it is likely just a developmental thing. 8 months is a normal age for separation anxiety. In that case you just have to be patient. I would try to expose her to others, but not force her upon others. Try sitting with her on your lap next to Daddy on the couch and similar things.

Another thing to do is be sure to have independnet play time each day.

Plowmanators said...

Rachel, it is sad! I also know people like that--and those that wish they could be like that! lol


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