Parenting Toward Independence

We are partners in raising our children to be quality, independent adults. Since I began teaching in Glenview in the mid-1990s, I have been amazed at the quality of our students. Of course, this is no accident. A favorite saying of mine is that in our communities, parent is a verb.

Character Counts! Week

Our ongoing focus on the whole child through efforts like Character Counts! certainly influences our kids. At District 30’s October 15th Board Meeting, our Board again unanimously approved a proclamation in support of Character Counts! Week, which will be from Monday, October 19th through Friday, October 23rd. I applaud the focus on the Character Counts! Pillars:

Pillars

Character Counts! Week focuses on these pillars and includes Canned Food Drives at each school. Our efforts combine with District 34 and OLPH to create the single largest donation to the Northfield Food Pantry, which serves over 700 families in need from within our communities.

Ongoing Growth as Parents

This week also included author Julie Lythcott Haims sharing insights from her book How to Raise an Adult at Glenbrook North High School last Wednesday, October 14th. Ms. Haims’ presentation through the Family Action Network was outstanding and worth watching.

Her core message for parenting. She emphasized, “Our job is to build confidence, competence, and ultimately independence.” Ms. Haims shared a compelling argument that our parenting responsibility is inhibited by our well-meaning over-involved parenting. She used the example of teaching our children to walk across the street to highlight the need for us to teach life skills by:

  • Doing it for them
  • Doing it with them
  • Watching them do it
  • Let them do it on their own

She shared that childhood is supposed to be opportunity after opportunity for our kids to gain more and more skills toward building independence. A time to take chances, fail, and learn to do and think for themselves. She believes that over-involved parenting stunts our children’s growth. They depend on their parents to do the planning, implementing, figuring out, problem solving, handling, etc. They cope, but depend on parents.

Ironically, she shared compelling evidence that over parenting deprives kids of life skills and leads to higher rates of anxiety and depression. In essence, we deprive them of the ability to form self-efficacy, and the understanding that one’s own actions, lead to outcomes.

We certainly don’t begin our parenting journey by giving our sons and daughters independence. They need our guidance and parameters in place as they learn the skills needed to be successful adults. However, I completely agree with Ms. Haims, “Our job is to put ourselves out of a job and raise our offspring to be able to do for themselves, and think for themselves, and feel for themselves.” As we partner in parenting, we collectively need to arm our kids with the confidence that comes from learning from their failures, overcoming challenges and achieving independence.

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