Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Autonomy

I like to let my children have a little autonomy over their lives. Notice I said a little because they still have to clean their rooms and brush their teeth because I said so. I think character is developed when life has a chance to chip away at our rough spots. When my kids know that they made a decision to do something and the thing they chose becomes difficult (shoveling the walk in a skirt is fun, but you are going to get awfully cold after a while), they also learn to take ownership of the consequence.Along the way, the bumps and bruises refine and smooth out the rough places. They always have rules, but those rules are generally broad. They are thoroughly rehearsed in safety and know how to ask for help. When I try to let them make a lot of their own decisions and don't micromanage, they learn to rely upon themselves and their own good sense. (Hopefully, they are developing the all-too-elusive common sense.)

My oldest two pods are 10 and a couple of weeks shy of 8. Tonight, they are at a movie, by themselves. The theater is one mile away and I let them walk as long as it is light out. They have earned their own money for tickets and popcorn.

I have let them do this kind of thing before. Sometimes I spy on them--not because I don't trust them, but because I just want to watch. They are more careful and better behaved when they are allowed to govern themselves.

As parents, we are asked to help a person evolve from completely dependent to completely independent in about eighteen years.

As if you needed that reminder.

1 comment:

  1. This is an area I really need to work on... In some ways I let my kids do something of their choice and learn by the natural consequences, like your daughter out shoveling in her skirt.
    In other ways though, I so have to get over my paranoia that if I let them walk a mile away on their own that they'll be kidnapped or something. My girls especially need me to let go more, I'm sure I suffocate their autonomy far more than I intend to.
    I wasn't raised that way at all though, my 7 siblings and I could run all over the neighborhood all day, no worries...
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration.

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