May 4, 2010

Tipsy Tuesday - Garnering Independence in your Children

Today's post and my next several Tuesdays will be shared posts with my other writing home, Trendy Treehouse, where you can find me weekly adding in my two cents. In fact, my regular post appears every Tuesday at 3pm, if you want to visit me there too.

Speaking of Trendy Treehouse, let me also encourage you to visit and participate in our weekly Shutter Love Tuesday photo contest. Link up and get some new followers! A little shout out: I met the original author, Tara way back in January, when she had just started that blog, it was at around 50 followers. Today, just about 5 months later, the blog has more than 1200 followers! She has a way with people and a real knack for building a brand and business!

In fact: here is my Shutter Love Tuesday photo, under the theme: Children.
Don't they seem SOOO happy?! Hahaha.

Now that you see what I have to work with, I thought I might share one of those things I've been thinking a lot about.

If you've been paying attention, you might have caught that my son just turned 7 years old, and for me, that does two things; 1. Makes me feel old.  2. Makes me feel like my kids are getting older.I know 7 isn't old.  I am aware.  It just sounds "big".  Plus my "baby" girl is almost 5 and I am really not sure how that happened. 

So, the question of the day is "What is your purpose as you parent?" I would love to ask the question and allow you to answer for yourself before shoving my opinion down your throat, but I'm ready now.

Ready? Some might have the purpose to raise a child who is "successful" in life. Some might have the purpose to raise the next President of the USA or the next Bill Gates. Others might really just want their children to happy as adults.

My personal parenting purpose is two-fold. 1. To raise children who love God and desire to have authentic relationships with Him, and 2. To raise children who are successful adults because they have #1 and they are independent enough to own it all and make it happen.

What do I mean by "it" - that would be just about anything they put their mind to. For now, that means I will fully support my son as he talks about being the next President of the USA. That means I will gently redirect my daughter to a more realistic career goal other than "Princess", but she's not 5 yet, so I think there is still time.

So, how does one garner independence in children? Starting from infancy and the ability to self-sooth, all the way to the teen years and their first job, a healthy sense of independence is a valuable tool that children need to become successful adults

Tip 1: Never do for your child what he/she is able to do for him/herself.
This is one I have found challenging for about 7 years. It is easier at times to just take care of it, to not have to watch them struggle with their seat belt, to not have to deal with a toilet clogged with half a roll of toilet paper or listen to the whining voice complaining that they can't do it.

So, practically speaking what does this look like?
At what age do you require them to independently use the bathroom?
At what age do you expect them to make their own bed?
When do they start sorting and loading clothes into the washer?
When do they start doing chores such as cleaning the kitchen, dusting, vacuuming and the like?
When do you allow them to start cooking and/or baking?
What are your guidelines as a parent?

As a mother of a 7 and 5 year old, I am quickly realizing that my children are capable of doing so much more than I give them credit for, and they seem to be okay with me doing it for them.

I think as a mother I also experience a little bit of guilt that I am subconsciously forcing my children to do things for themselves because I am selfish and lazy, and don't want to work any more... and when it comes to dusting, that is SO true. I am mostly kidding, but really think that somewhere inside many mothers, this is a potential hidden thought.

Being independent is so good for kids. It builds self-esteem, it gives confidence, it fosters more independence. Who wouldn't want a child who can make his own breakfast and lunch? Who wouldn't want a teenager who can responsibly take care of their own car?

Come and visit next week and we can continue this conversation with Tip #2. In the meantime, tell me today, what are the battles for independence in your home? Does your 5 year old demand you wipe their bottoms after going to the bathroom? Does your 10 year old refuse to clean his room? Or you can answer the question: What is your parenting purpose?

Just me, AJ


  1. Oh I so agree that doing for themselves giives them such a sense of accomplishment and boosts their self esteem! hopefully by the time I send my sweet girls out into the big bad world they will be ready!

  2. This is very important. There is so much pride and sense of confidence that comes from doing something on your own.

    It really does work.

    Thank you for posting this.

  3. I'm right on the brink of this with my 18 month old. I'm trying very hard to start instilling the habits of picking up after herself and not doing things for her. But it is so hard when you need things to get done so you can move on to the next thing. Some would say, "she's ONLY 18 months old." And thats true. But she will quickly be 2 and then 3 and so on. I would seriously like to hear from moms out there. What age did you start having your child do what?

    I'm starting to feel like she definitely understands but plays the baby part to avoid doing things. Should I discipline her for this???? Mom's help!

  4. I don't know if I've said this before here or not, but our pastor says that parenting should be like a funnel, where we hold on tight at first and then gradually let go. Love that.

    I don't know why I never put together that you were over on Trendy Treehouse. I'm a little slow sometimes.

  5. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!! I agree! My 'goal' is to afford them the opportunity to find out who they are, their purpose and their way. To be productive members of a community and conduct themselves with love, pride and patience.

  6. Cute photo! I love the angle :)

  7. Plan, plan, plan, and then wing it!

  8. The picture is sweet! Wait till your sayin' my son is 35 years old and my baby girl is 31...oops..did I say that out-loud? You are doin' a good thing by giving your children chores. It makes for independent responsible adults. Take it from an old chick!

    Ya'll have a fantastic day filled with warm sunny blessings!!!

  9. Following you over from Trendy Treehouse’s Follow Me Friday!

    Stop by and enter my giveaway:

  10. I have that tendency to step in nd take over because it is easier...but I have stepped back. My son is much more capable than I give him credit for.

    My purpose as a parent very closely resembles #2. Someone asked my hubby...and his answer was "to be self sufficient." They said "don't you want him to be happy." He said, "Of course, buy he needs to be able to take care of himself.

    I thought my son was still a baby at age 6 until I had his sister and he suddenly grew up.

  11. Stopping by from Friday Follow to say Hi!

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