I am the parent of a 9-year old boy and a 17-year old girl who is a senior in high school. Lately it seems like my wife and I have had many conversations about what level of freedom, responsibility, and autonomy each should have. How involved should we be in the decisions they make? In their academic and extracurricular activities and social lives? Should my daughter get to drive her friends to Halloween Horror Nights and come home after midnight? Should we talk to my son’s teacher about his social studies project or have him do that? Can my son attend the Lutheran Emergency Response Team’s chainsaw training like he wants? (OK so that was an easy one 🙂 )
We make a lot of decisions as parents and many of them are not simple. As my wife and I prepare to send our daughter off to college we’re realizing that the most important thing we do is to help our children become independent people who strive to take responsibility for their own actions and solve their own problems. Regardless of age we can help our children to face and deal with adversity, obstacles, and conflict that they must learn to manage on their own.
One person who really helps us on this path is Dr. Tim Elmore. He is an author and expert on parenting and growing young leaders. Two phrases he uses that ring true to me as a parent are “Don’t do for them what they should do for themselves” and “Does helping them now hurt them in the long run?” I highly recommend you read his latest blog post on the topic I’m writing about today. Click here to read it – I think you’ll find it enlightening and thought provoking.