raising independent kids

Raising confident, independent children begins the first time we hold our breath as we let go of their hands and they take those first, tentative steps alone.
Recently, I watched as my 2-year-old grandson played with a new, simple wooden tray puzzle with me and his sister. They dumped out the puzzle, then grabbed pieces shoving each other aside as they fought to pick-up and fit the most pieces in place.
Eventually, both wanted to work with it alone. Daddy was watching and told them to take turns. Big sister had her turn first. When it was his turn, big sister reached across him and snatched up a puzzle piece. He squawked and elbowed her out of the way. It was his turn. Their dad distracted her. Little brother dumped out the pieces and one by one wiggled them back into their proper places, conquering the puzzle. The last piece in place, he sat there smiling down at it, exulting that he had completed the puzzle.
If only it was all a simple wooden puzzle. Last month, I held my breath and told my daughter I would not financially cushion her this semester.
At 14 she had a checkbook and spending allowance for her expenses. It was time for the next step.
She had a huge stack of text books to buy, a semester of clothes to wash, and the miscellaneous of life to handle. I knew she did not have a lot of money, but she had enough.
She called me back that weekend, “I talked with the financial aid officer today. He said there is a $400 alumni scholarship that I am eligible for. He said he sends them out to all of the students who are eligible, but most do not return them. He said most would get the money from the scholarship, if they did, but they don’t bother to fill them out and return them. I didn’t know where mine was, so he gave me another one. I am filling it out today.”
“All right! Thank God! That should more than cover the cost of books,” I calculated out loud.
The other end of the line went silent. I had said too much. It was her decision now, not mine, on how she would allocate any funds she received from her efforts to take care of herself. Time for me to sit back and simply watch.
Last week she called again to talk about funds. She had received a re-imbursement for last semester’s tuition. Since I had made up the tuition difference last semester, she was hesitantly asking if she should return the money to me, or could she use it for a state test and other college fees that I had already agreed to cover.
She presented a wise, carefully thought-out financial plan. I okayed her distribution plan, hung up and quit holding my breath. I could relax and watch my child enjoy the thrill and confidence of stepping out on her own.
Eventually she will realize the same thing her oldest brother and his wife realized. They had piled into their first new car for their first cross country trip to visit us. He said they looked at each other and realized it was just the two of them and no parents to tell them which route to take, where to go or anything. “We looked at each other and grinned,” he said, still amazed. Independence is fantastic.

About jottingjoan

retired former newspaper writer. Many children and grandchildren. One husband.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.