Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Raising Independent Kids

I have been struggling with what I can do now to ensure my boys are independent, capable adults. I don't know what the statistics are, but it seems like boys have a harder time growing up and becoming independent adults. At least that seems to be the trend with family and friends I know.

This is what I found from (By the way, I just formed a partnership with the website's founder Dr. Debbie Glasser. She has some great information for us.)

Close Families Raise More Independent Adults

You're already 25 and you still live with your parents. You're 26 and you still bring your laundry take home food from your mother. Don't worry; new research at the University of Haifa found that, contrary to common belief, young adults who maintain a close or moderate relationship with their parents exhibit greater independence in their personal lives than those who have a distant relationship.

In her research, Dr. Irit Yanir evaluated how a parent-child relationship is connected to one's ability to fulfill society's expectations in terms of settling down and establishing an intimate relationship. Dr. Yanir conducted in-depth interviews with psychologists, parents and young adults between the ages of 23-27. An additional 100 families (father, mother and child) completed 300 surveys as part of the study.

According to the researcher, a close relationship with parents is one in which children talk with their parents often and regularly spend time together (eating meals together, for example), and one in which a child feels comfortable sharing his thoughts and experiences with his parents. The researcher differentiates between connectedness and relationship-orientation, which refers to the youth's need to satisfy his parents and fulfill their expectations. A connected offspring may share with his parents and solicit their advice, and still make independent choices and decisions.

"An independent young adult is one who exhibits independence not only in his day-to-day life but also in the emotional sphere, and who makes his way in life with emotional and intellectual autonomy," she explained.

While a close relationship is often viewed as a sign of dependence, the research results show that those with close relationships with their parents were more financially self-sufficient, more independent in their day-to-day lives, professionally stable, felt more mature and were more likely to be involved in a stable intimate relationship.

Those who maintained distant relationship with their parents and tended to make choices out of a need to rebel against their parents' expectations were less independent into their late 20s. "The research found that following adolescence, the familial connection is an important factor in forming one's identity and living an independent life. It seems that not only can independence and closeness exist together, but they actually flourish together," summarized Dr. Yanir.

This theory doesn't exactly hold true in the situations I know. Some of the young men are extremely close to their parents. However, at least it gives us moms something to go on. I'm sure it doesn't hurt to have a close relationship with your kids.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Diane Vespa said...

It is hard sometimes to encourage independance in our children, especially when we perpetually feel that they are still "our babies". That is one instinct that is hard to let go, but eventually, our common sense takes over and we do the right thing! I'm sure you are doing a great job!

steven edward streight said...

This is a wonderful post, and on a topic close to my heart.

I think independence of thought is very important, while not shunning the wisdom of elders and the past. But parents could try to focus on encouraging debate.

"Here's how I see it, son. You tell me if you find my argument sound or shakey."


"Honey, most women agree that one must not behave in this manner. How do you see this controversy of tattoos? Have you seriously studies both sides of the issue?"

rather than the Neanderthal head thumping of "Because I said so, that's why!" which only attempts to prop up a wilting authority and base obedience on enforced fear rather than logic or responsibility.

Of course, this is the dreamy ideal. I know how frustrating it can be to parent a person.

But teach your kids HOW to think and trust they will right choose or invent WHAT to think, based on your noble example in life.

Jennifer said...

I agree with Diane. It's one thing to know in your mind that your child needs to be independent; it's completely different when you deal with your heart, and the realization that with independence will come missteps, missteps that could lead to a broken heart, mistakes, or difficult situations.

steven edward streight said...

A male POV: mistakes teach more than success. You should want your kids to experience failure, sorrow, remorse, guilt, self-doubt, disloyalty, betrayal, broken hearts, and getting fired from a dream job.

Because these "tragic/painful" events teach and strengthen, far more than comfort zones and pampering.

A good way to make a kid nuts and hated by others is to let him or her have things go their way all the time, no rebuke, no penalties, no repercussions, no sensitivity to others.

Don't shield your children from the great and sometimes onerous lessons of life. Just enhance their self-esteem, faith, and courage so they will obtain the precious wisdom and the empathy they need.

steven edward streight said...

I also agree with Diane Vespa. Theory is way easier than practice.

Your heart will go with them as they cut the apron strings, and your example shall be their bright lamp lighting the way of their decisions.

pooja said...

raising independent kids is a tough job:)
according to me kids should be given enough freedom to express their mind and action..:)

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