Bits of Independence

Sunday, May 31, 2009

As we forge on into the adolescent years, I am keeping my eyes open for ways in which The Boy and The Girl can try out their growing independence. It's very easy, really, as they both let me know when they're ready for something more.

The latest adventure is leaving them at home for short periods of time. Years ago, I thought it would be difficult and anxiety provoking. Silly me! I make sure they're fed and generally happy and they take care of the rest. When I'm out and the kids are at home, I feel fine. I'm relaxed. I'm focused on the activity at hand (usually groceries) and I go about my business without hardly giving a thought to the kids.

For years the kids have been 'practicing' their independence around the house with decreasing supervision. The Girl gets a lot of satisfaction out of making herself breakfast every day. I quit snack duty years ago and the kids now forage for themselves. They direct their own hobbies and interests, they're responsible for certain household tasks and they are making good progress in learning things that have been my job in the past. They are responsible to keep their rooms as they like them, to pick out their own clothes when shopping and for deciding how to spend most of their time.

Leaving them at home seemed like a natural and logical step. If I was at all anxious about it, I wouldn't do it. I know I've been long enough on my errands when that 'funny feeling' starts. Years ago when I read Protecting The Gift by Gavin de Becker, I was happy to read about trusting your intuition. For a long time, I'd been doing things that set off warning bells within myself. Since then, I have been much more confident in listening to my intuition - particularly my 'parenting radar'. When it goes off, I come home or call home.

I'm so glad that this is working out - for the kids' sake, not mine. I'm glad I'm able to help them feel grown up and mature and responsible. It's exciting to help them foster the independence that will be so important to them in the coming years. And I love how when I come home, I usually find this:

A couple of happy kids reading aloud to each other while their parents were at the mall.

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