What's the Alternative to Independence?

November 13th, 2022
kids
When I talk about teaching my kids to be independent, trying to get them to where they can do more on their own, one response I often get is, paraphrasing:

I like spending time with my kids and don't see it as a burden. Bringing them to school, playing with them, making their food: these are all chances to connect and enjoy being together. They'll be old enough not to need me soon enough, and in the meantime I enjoy bringing them to the playground.

So, first, I also like spending time with my kids! We do a lot of things together, and I'm happy about that. But it's also common that they'll want to do things that I can't do with them:

  • One wants to go to the park and the other wants to stay home.

  • One of them is ready to go to school and wants to get there early to play with friends, but the other isn't ready yet.

With a third child now this comes up even more. At times:

  • The older two want to go over to a friend's house, but the baby is napping.

  • I'm still feeding the baby breakfast when it's time for school.

  • The best time for the baby's afternoon nap conflicts with school pickup.

The alternative to doing things on their own is typically not us doing the same things together. Instead, it's at least one kid needing to accept doing something they like much less, and typically a lot more indoor time.

I do think there is some truth in the original point, though. There are times when the alternative to "they go to the park" is just "I take them to the park". Sometimes that's fine (they want to play with friends, I want to write), other times less so (they want to play monster and I don't have anything that's actually more important). With this approach you do need to be thoughtful about making sure you're spending an amount of time with them that you all are, and will be, happy with.

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