Our main responsibility as parents is to invite our children into adulthood. One of the main steps in doing so is teaching our children how to be autonomous. To be autonomous means to be independent. Teaching our children how to be independent is a necessary life skill if we want our children to be healthy full functioning adults.
In a society that promotes codependent relationships as well as a lengthening adolescences; being autonomous will set our children apart and fully prepare them for adulthood.
How does this practically workout. My wife and I have two girls, 10 and 13. We are instilling in our children the important skills of problem solving and other skills necessary to be an adult. We are proud that our children can cook for themselves (the younger with some supervision), know how to do laundry, and even bring wood in for our woodstove. They do not need us to do most things in life.
Some may see this as a negative and say that we are “hands off” parents. However I have clearly seen a trend as I have worked with adolescents for the past 13 years that kids are less and less able to function independently from their parents.
What does it take for children to become autonomous? It takes a lot of patience on the part of the parents. We must restrain ourselves from jumping in when we see our children struggling to complete a task. We must be willing to allow our children to fail and teach them that failure is a fundamental part of life.
My wife and I know from experience that this can be frustrating, and frightening to watch; however it is critical for healthy development. And the contrary to this is even more frustrating. Imagine having a twenty-something that struggles to function independently for his parents. Not able to cook, clean, launder, pay a bill, etc. Sadly this has become a norm.