Beep, beep, beep! It must be 7am and that is my daughter’s alarm going off. I wait a couple minutes to see if she emerges from her cave. Some days she does but this time she doesn’t. That means she turned off her alarm and laid back down.
I wait and nothing.
A few minutes later I hear stirring but it’s from one of her brothers, then another and finally the youngest wakes up. Still no girl. It’s now 7:26am and I’ve finished making my preschooler’s lunch and have sent the other kids upstairs to get dressed after they got their own breakfast. Even with their loud noises, she doesn’t stir.
7:49am — she busts out of her room crying about what time it is and why didn’t I wake her up? I remind her that the night before we talked about how she was going to get up in the morning to her alarm. She knows I’m not her wake up service if she wants to get to school on time.
She is ten and while I probably won’t let her miss the bus, letting her sweat it out a little is where parenting gets fun. Trust me, I was not on her good side. It was evident as she slammed her way out of the house this morning without a hug or goodbye.
Even though I wanted to wake her up, I didn’t. It’s not because I’m heartless and want to see her squirm. It’s because I am teaching her in a safe environment how to independently get herself up and ready for the day.
Raising Independent Adults
By age four: They can fold their own clothes and put them away, clear the table and put their dishes in the sink, clean up after themselves and shower on their own.
By age six: Making their own breakfast and lunch for school are now their responsibility. If they forget folders with work at home, I don’t bring it in.
By age eight: I no longer ask about when homework is due. They can mow the lawn and help with trash days.
By age ten: We now have built trust that my children can cook and be safe around the stove and oven. They are able to be home by themselves. I do not wake my children up when they missed their alarm.
I let them fail because I am raising independent adults.
Why I Let Them Fail
When we take their homework to school, charge their laptops for the next day or wake them up when they’ve missed their alarm, what are we telling them? On the forefront, it’s “Don’t worry, honey, we will always be there for you.” And sure, kids want to know that you love and care for them. By fixing everything, the underlying issue becomes that they aren’t capable of handling their own problems.
We’re parents but that doesn’t mean we have to do everything for our children. It means that we are teaching and showing them by example how do things they will need to know as adults. We get 18 years to teach them life skills they need to function on their own. So while they are in the safety of our home, let them try, fail and try again.
When things get hard do you give up or do you keep trying? Life is not easy, nor should it be. Otherwise we wouldn’t learn from our mistakes and grow as humans. As parents, our greatest reward is when we are able to see our children’s independence happening right before our eyes. The older my children get, the less I have to do around the house. My role has moved from maid, short order cook, wake up service to chauffeur, therapist and teacher.
Even at a young age I want them to know they are capable of taking care of themselves. I’m not heartless and I will help them if they need me. I want them to struggle a bit, work through it in their head and then ask for help. By doing this, they learning a process in which to get them to an end solution. And for us parents, it’s about letting go in order to let them fly on their own.