How to: help your kids to be independent
Because they'll need it, no matter how close you are!
I've always thought, our children are meant to be taken care of, educated, loved and taught to be valuable citizens for our society. In between all these, there's also the need to teach them to be independent.
Let's see... What being independent actually means?
Independent= free from outside control; not depending on another's authority; or, not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.
Exactly what we must aim to achieve in life! To be free from controlling authorities, and to be self-sufficient.
Years ago, I had this argument with a person. He stated that kids need to learn to "survive" by their own means. And I was totally against that principle. For me, leaving my kids to just survive, was to throw them in a world they know nothing about and wait for a miracle to happen. In my motherly heart, there's no space for just the hope of my kids' survival.
How will they survive in a world like this? How will they know how to differentiate between good and wrong without a guide? How was I capable of just doing as animals do, send my cubs to have the experience, and perhaps make mistakes and end up like been someone else's dinner?
No. I was totally against the idea of survival. I still am. Don't misunderstand me. I'm opposed to the idea of survival without skills. Without the teaching moments. Without the guide. Truth is, nobody has the capacity to survive on their own without skills.
Little kids can have the orange right in front of them, but they don't know what it is until you teach them. They know its taste, its uses, because they were taught.
I try to teach my kids how to live a nice prosperous life. If something bad happens to me, they'll be prepared to face the world. I try to teach them how to protect themselves, how to stick together as siblings if I'm not here anymore. I try teaching them to do things on their own, to never wait to be served, to be useful.
Am I really teaching my kids to be independent? Yes. I hope so. Because it's really hard to teach kids how to do all the things by themselves when they probably think they'll have you forever.
What do I do? How do I try to teach my kids to be independent?
These are some thing I try teaching my kids on their way to independence:
No job is gender exclusive.
I always tell my kids: A job is a job. There's no job exclusive for women or for men. That was ancient times. Now, men are great chefs and women are combat pilots. You do what you love, not what society dictates.
Servants don't exist (in their lives).
Waking up and spending a whole day doing nothing while other people care for you, clean for you, cook for you, even give you snacks at snack time, is something they cannot expect to happen. Of course, I cook their meals because I cook dinner for the whole family. But no. I don't go around the house picking up their clothes and toys and papers. That's their job, not mine.
Mom/dad is not immortal.
Yeah, a shocker for them, right? Little kids tend to see parents as superheroes. Contrary to the movies, we get sick, we die. We're not some sort of Underworld vampire who lives thousands of years. We are not Twilight's Jacob whose aging slows to match his special person. Our hero power has a limited amount of tricks. We do not respawn. Please, repeat: WE DO NOT RESPAWN!
Do your own laundry.
No human being knows how much time you can spend in just one task if they had never made their own laundry. Washing, drying, folding and putting back in their righteous place is a work that requires hours. But it's necessary and extremely useful -if they aim to live in a clean, organized house.
Earn your things
How many of you have heard kids asking for expensive phones, games, shoes? A few days later, mommy or daddy go and buy the object of desire just because they want to please their children. That's a terrible mistake. Buying expensive things to kids, just because parents don't want to hear them winning and complaining, is so wrong. Kids must learn to earn those things. Especially those that cost the most. They must learn the value of money and that you have to work hard for long hours to be able to indulge them with such gifts.
Doing extra chores around the house, being constant with their help, mowing the lawn, helping the younger siblings with the school work after theirs is done, are great ways to earn those things.
Pay for your own pleasures.
Nothing gives us greater pleasure than owning something we really wanted. But for something to belong completely to you, you need to pay for it fully. Teach your kids the responsibility of paying their own expensive likes.
There are always consequences.
Every single thing we do has an effect. If we do good things, the result will be good. If we do wrong things, the repercussions will be bad.
Those consequences are solely yours. If you behave disrespectfully, you'll lose your screen time, among other things. But only you will lose it, not the whole family. Your bad results are only yours to have. No matter the consequences, they must learn to face them by themselves.
Saving money is vital.
At some point in our life, we all had to live counting the coins left in the piggy bank. Of course, we've all been there. Without savings, we simply cannot live. How can we pay for the essentials if we don't save? I try to teach my kids to save at least 20% of the money they receive for the future and an extra 10% for an unexpected little treat. The "I'm still too young to start saving" is an unacceptable excuse. Never a person is young enough to think about their future.
Teach them to solve their own problems.
The iPad isn't sending your teacher the homework? I know, it's frustrating. But crying is definitely not the answer. Don't solve the problem for them, teach them to look for options. I wonder what will happen if you restart it? Sometimes those things are just stubborn machines.
Their hair's a mess and they cannot see the movie comfortably? Don't go and comb their hair and make a ponytail every time. Instead, teach them how to do it on their own.
Problem-solving is a very important skill. Real life is full of real situations. If they don't grow the capacity to look for options, answers, solutions, they are doomed.
Teach them to apologize.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes, we say things we shouldn't have. Saying "I'm sorry" "I was wrong" is always the right thing to do. Teaching them to recognize their mistakes makes them more human. You give them the sense of empathy, and this, they'll need it forever.
Teach them to be honest.
Truth not aways is pretty and sometimes it will hurt. But it's the right thing to do. Honesty can open them lots of doors. Even with one door opened, opportunities will always come. On the opposite, lies and dishonesty closes all doors. Just one door closed for dishonesty, closes them all forever.
I know it sounds like a silly thing. Why do kids need to learn to eat healthily in order to be independent? Well, it is important. Imagine your kid developing an illness... you're not around anymore... who better than himself to know what's better for their body? A healthy body is a healthy brain. The right foods help a person to be more focused.
Kids must learn from example that some things are far more important than others. If kids are sick, you go to the doctor first. Not to the movies.
If you leave the house forgetting to put the lock on your front door, you're teaching your kid his/her safety isn't a priority.
Being absent to work just because you didn't feel like working and because you wanted to play videogames is a terrible example of messed-up priorities, but a perfect way to teach your kids to be lazy. Teach your kids sense of responsibility. Is okay to stay home a day and do whatever you please. That's what off days are meant for, right? Remember, this little person is imitating you with admiration and love.
Last, but not least important. Show your kids to be faithful. Give them something to believe. If you believe in God, show them your way to love God. Teach them to always pray, to put their future projects in God's hands. They will never be small enough not to understand how God works. A strong belief gives them a sense of belonging, a purpose. It also teaches them empathy, love and respect for every being.
But most importantly, help your kids to grow full of love, with hopes, knowing you'll do whatever it takes to be by their side. But just in case you can't, you're giving them all the tools needed, you're sending them covered with their shining armor, ready to face this ever-changing world.
Lots of love,