Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teaching Independence, Slowly But Surely

From TODAY, Voices

Monday November 24, 2008


By Dr James Dobson


How does a child learn to handle freedom and independence? It takes a precise, calculated effort by the parents.


Teaching your child to deal responsibly with independence and freedom is like luring him out of a five-storey window with a rope. You do it little by little, slowly, deliberately, hand over hand. If you let the rope out all at once, he may plunge to the ground.


I remember a test of my own independence when I was 17 years old. My parents went on a two-week trip and left me behind with the family car, with permission to have some friends over.


I behaved responsibly, but I always wondered why my mother took that risk. When I asked her about it years later, she just smiled and said: Because I knew you would soon be leaving for university, where you would have complete freedom and no one watching over you. I wanted to expose you to that independence while you were still under my influence.”


My mother exemplified an important child-rearing principle: She prepared me for independence.


If you have children, let them test the waters of freedom as they’re growing up, rather than thrusting them into total independence all at once. Then when they’re on their own and completely free, they’ll know how to handle it responsibly and wisely. 


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