On Raising Independent Kids

By chelsea May 1, 2018

Sometimes I write parenting essays here because I feel really convicted about something, or I feel like we’ve figured something out within our family and I want to share what works for us. This… ain’t one of those times. My thoughts on raising independent kids are anything but clear, and honestly, I’m probably looking for a good conversation about it more than anything else.
On raising independent kids

Photo by Mary Costa Photography

I remember bringing Henry home, and all through his first baby months, taking such care to fill him with all of the ideals that we always had in our heads. Teach our kids to be kind, make them smart, help them care about people, encourage them to be curious, make them joyful, teach them to love music and art, and on and on. I never really thought about helping them to be independent. Not in any specific ways, I mean. We would encourage little Hank to play with friends, to try things without us, to play by himself for a while. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. I didn’t think too much about it.
Fast forward to our three-and-a-half boy. He’s been in school for two years. He gets dropped off with no tears and with excitement to see his teachers. He looks forward to playdates with friends. He wants to perform daily tasks by himself with no help (sometimes). But still to this day, his favorite playmates are mom and dad. And I think that’s probably pretty normal. Except I often hear his little friends’ parents say things like, “Yeah, she’ll play by herself for an hour or two at home.” And my jaw drops! I cannot imagine a world where Henry plays by himself for that long. And guys. It. Gets. Exhausting. I love that he loves to play with us, but it leaves little to no time to get the day-to-day stuff done that needs to get done in a house (let alone get work done). And sometimes I wonder if we went wrong somewhere way back when he was a little guy, by constantly entertaining him.
Now Maggie’s in the picture, and naturally that poor second child gets ignored now and again, and I think that she’s a little more independent because of it. But honestly, even if we had the time to think about teaching Maggie how to be more independent at home, I wouldn’t even know how or where to start. So I guess my question is this: If you have kids, do they play well by themselves? And if they do, how did you do that?! Teach me the ways, guys. Because I love Legos and everything but sometimes you just have to set the Legos down and do the dishes. 😉 xoxo

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