It is important to raise independent children. They are the ones who can think for themselves. Independent children become adults who make the world better than they found it.
Sometimes Helicopters Cause a Crash
A short time ago I was speaking with a colleague about college students. She was telling me that 7 of the 8 young people who lived on her street did not finish their first year at college. These young people had been raised in a very posh, well established suburban town near my own. They had enormous advantages – wealthy parents, excellent schools, and wonderful opportunities at every turn. Yet they could not finish the first year of college.
My colleague explained that to a person, each one had the following problems:
- inability to get up on time for class
- unable to get to meals each day
- found it impossible to have enough clean clothes
- lack of ability to advocate for themselves with professors
Each of the young people in question had helicopter type parents. These young people were never raised to be independent children. They did not know how to set alarms to help themselves wake up each day. When they lived at home, their parents set the alarms and woke them up each morning. Because their parents woke them up and helped them eat breakfast each morning. As a result, when these young people had to leave their dorms and get to the cafeteria for breakfast during breakfast hours they were completely lost and often missed breakfast.
Naturally, these young people did not do their own laundry so when their clothes got dirty they did not know what to do. Finally, their parents always talked to their teachers for them. As a result, these young people had no clue how to advocate for themselves with professors. Nothing in their pre-college life helped these young people be independent children. So when it was time for them to step up on their own, they had no clue what to do.
When parents fail to raise their children to be independent children, they do grave damage. A young person who has never been tasked to act independently will struggle in college. Intellect, intelligence, and education do not equal independence. No matter how smart your child is, she will not be able to handle college if you don’t teach her to be independent.
Let Your Children Use Their Wings So They Can Fly Solo
I am the mother of four children ranging in age from 24 to 13. All of my children still live at home. This means I am not going to advise anyone to push their little chicks out of the nest. I will advise you to help your children to stand on their own feet. It doesn’t matter when you start. It is never too late to teach your children to be independent.
Start with an alarm clock.
Teach your children to get up in the morning. If they are too young for a phone, get them an alarm clock or a clock radio. Even if you still go and wake them up each day, have them get used to alarms. When they are old enough for phones, you can have them set alarms for getting to lunch on time, coming to family dinner on time, and for bedtime. If your children can get up on time when they are home with you, they will be able to get to class on time in college.
Make Time for Meal Time
If possible, have a set time for meals at home. Let your children know that if they don’t get to meals by a certain time, the meal will be put away and they will have to fend for themselves. Think about it this way, cats, dogs, and fish can be taught to come to meals on time. So should your children. If your children can get to meals on time at home, they will be able to get to the cafeteria on time in college.
Clothes Make the Young Person
Clean clothes are a necessity. Make sure your children know how to do laundry. You can start when they are old enough to dress themselves. You can do it in just a few steps:
- teach them to put dirty clothes in a hamper
- show them how to separate clothes by color and fabric type
- teach them how to add clothes, detergent and fabric softener to the wash
- show them how to dry clothes
- let them practice putting clothes away
- teach them how to iron
There are several steps to this process, but they can be taught little by little over time. If your children are going to be living away from home at college, they must learn to do laundry. This will not guarantee that they don’t come home for school breaks with suitcases full of dirty laundry. But it will guarantee that if they need clean clothes while they are at school, they can get them.
She who advocates for herself advocates best
Finally, teach your children to advocate for themselves. When they are off at college, their professors will not be interested in hearing from you like the teachers in elementary school. Your children must learn how to advocate for themselves. When they are in school at home and there is a problem with a teacher, allow your children to address the problem first. If they are unsuccessful or need help, then you can step in. Each time they handle a situation on their own or attempt to do so, they are well on their way to independence.
As a parent, it is easy to try to walk in front of your children and wipe away all obstacles. However, if you want your children to be adults who can stand on their own, you must raise independent children. So, the question for you this serene day is how are you preparing your children for adulthood?