Responsibility and Independence

Almost all kids want independence—that is, when it is defined as being able to do whatever they want whenever they want. But, many kids struggle to realize that being truly independent goes hand-in-hand with being truly responsible.

Older teens will often tell parents that the parents have no place telling them what they can and can’t do while the teen is driving a car the parent bought with insurance the parent provides and using a parent-provided phone to make evening plans. And then the teen comes home and sleeps in a parent-provided room that comes complete with free maid and food service. And some parents buy into this version of independence just because their child has achieved a certain age, even though the parent is still carrying all the responsibility.

One of the best gifts we can give our kids is to teach them healthy responsibility and independence and help them see that these two concepts go hand-in-hand. If we give too much independence without giving a balanced amount of responsibility, we can short-circuit the natural drive to true independence.On the other hand, it can also be hard to give our kids the increasing amount of independence they need to start making their own decisions as they get older and to finally let go when it is time for them to fly on their own. But, when we leave increasingly more decisions up to them, it communicates to them that we believe in them, which is one of the most important things they need to hear from us at this stage of their lives.

What ways have you found to help your kids learn responsibility and independence? What do you do to communicate to your children that you believe in them through your words and the amount of responsibility and independence you give them?

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