When a child is born, the first sign of health and life is often the sound of her cry when she takes her first breath. Until this time she has been a part of her mother; they have been breathing as one and now they are two. This breath is the start of a child’s independence.
As our children grow and develop they are reaching new levels of independence.
One day our baby realizes that she is a separate person. She finds her toes and realizes she can control their behaviour. She becomes mobile, wriggling, then crawling and finally walking.
As she grows she learns to dress herself, ride a bike, do her homework and choose her own friends.
There are hundreds of tiny steps she makes toward independence. And our job is to recognize and celebrate each of these stages.
Roots and Wings
We give them roots and wings. Roots is the easy part. We provide safety and security for them by loving and supporting them and by setting reasonable limits.
We give them wings by letting them go. Letting go is a process. When she’s learning to walk we baby proof the room and let her go even though we know she will occasionally fall on her well-padded, diapered bottom.
We teach her new skills when she is ready and then we watch her use her new skills. We let her dress herself even when the colours clash and we let her handle her own schoolwork.
Over-protecting our children is not a gift. When we try to protect them from experiencing failures and making mistakes we do them no favours.
Today we are constantly worried about the safety of our children. So we try to catch them when they fall down learning to walk. We keep them under constant supervision even when they are school-age.
Instead of protecting them, we are hampering their development and their need to eventually become independent adults.
Children can learn to grow up to become capable adults if we understand that we need to let them go a bit at a time when they are ready.