It's been awhile since I posted part 1 of The Road to Independence. If you are a follower of WordSmithery, you know that I have issues with so-called regular features. I'm pretty much not Type A.
In my first post, I talked about the general relaxed approach we've taken in our lives. One of the reasons that we began homeschooling was because we didn't like the rigid emphasis on testing in the elementary grades that we saw in our area public schools. In first grade, our oldest and his classmates had to practice filling out bubbles so that they would be prepared for the TCAPS (standardized test) in second grade. Really? What a colossal waste of childhood. They also had to practice note-taking so "they'd be ready for college." Oh, come on. That's just silliness. (I know it's not like that everywhere. I understand—and have experienced—the existence of excellent public schools, like the one in Iowa where we started out. But that's not our reality. And so.)
As I was saying, we have deliberately cultivated a relaxed approach to our lives, and in homeschooling and parenting, this translates at one level to relinquishing control little by little. This, my friends, is a key part of the road to independence. Your kid cannot become independent if you do everything for him/her because it's the way you want things done (AKA, the right way). In simplest terms, it's OK for your kids to color outside the lines, metaphorically. To raise an independent kid, you will have to give up a lot of preconceived notions you had about parenting and how your kid would be.
In practical terms:
• you must let your kid fail sometimes
• you must let your kid wear clothes that you did not pick out (yes, I know people who pick out their high schoolers' clothes each day)
• you must let go of some of the requirements you may have asked of your child when s/he was younger (e.g., cleaning her plate, getting up at ___ a.m., going to bed at ___ p.m., etc.)
• you may need to reconsider whether you will require your teen to attend various events with you. For example, I've seen 16-year-olds attending functions that are clearly meant for K-5th graders. The look on their faces: angry and embarrassed.
• you must pick your battles, just like you did when s/he was a toddler
• you must not allow what other people think to dictate what you know is right for your family. You must watch the hypocrisy level in your own life.
I'm not talking about just packing it all in and saying, "It's your life; do what you want." Obviously, there are plenty of places where our guidance is essential. But our kids need room to breathe and figure things out on their own, and they can't do that if we are constantly grilling them, questioning their decisions, and planning their every move. I think we parents do this mostly out of fear—fear that they'll be harmed in some way, fear of what others will think, fear that they'll fail, fear that they won't know what to do, fear that they won't turn out like we wanted them to.
That's all I have to say this time about helping your high schooler become independent. It's scary; I know—but you really can relinquish some control. Holding on too tightly might make you feel better and might even make your kid feel better because it's all s/he's ever known, but you might very well be doing him a disservice.
Do you have a high school-aged kid or older? In what ways did you relinquish control?