Friends are always amazed and mostly in shock when I share the journey of teaching my kids to be independent. From allowing my boys to bathe on their own at age of 3 TO giving them the freedom to take public transport home from school alone, I hardly have any supporters.
Many poured questions like, “What IF they did not bathe properly?”, “What IF ‘bad people’ followed them home?”, “What IF they misused their savings?”, “What IF they had an accident on the way home?”, and the endless “What IF?” questions continue…. even till this day.
My philosophy is: So long as my CHILD displays signs that he is READY to take on another step forward towards complete independence, I, as his parent, should SUPPORT him and let him take that leap; while I TAKE the LEAP of FAITH.
How many times in life, have you tried something that you have never done before, yet you still went ahead to do it? Simply because the PROs of taking that challenge, taking that leap of faith superseded not doing so.
The experience gained, the lessons learned become so precious, didn’t it? It made you grow as a person, hopefully a wiser one now, as well as (better) prepare you for the future.
Then comes another round of harsher questions like “Can you afford to take the risk?! If your child has any bad happenings, you are going to regret for the rest of your life!”
Seriously, after witnessing and experiencing so many hardships in my earlier life, I believe that when God’s plan for you is like so, you will eventually end up the way God had planned for you, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. If God decides to take us back home on this particular day, or particular time, there is no escaping from it.
When bad things happen, we start to blame ourselves, blame others. “If only I had not done this or made this decision, this would not have happened.” This sounds familiar doesn’t?
However, my view point is, can you be 100% sure that if you had changed your decision, the outcome will not end up the same way?
Therefore, if its meant to be, its meant to be.
To me, especially the ME now, I had learned to look at things with an open heart and an open mind.
Letting “What IFs” hinder my children from progressing in the journey of independence is not in my parenting package, WHEN MY CHILD SHOWS THAT HE IS READY for that milestone, I should be there to give him the confidence that he is capable of doing greater things and not drench him with denials.
Yes, the key phrase is WHEN THE CHILD SHOWS SIGNS that HE is READY!
NOT THE PARENTS.
Not the WISH of the parents.
But the CHILD’S.
Every NORMAL person had specific milestone to cross at certain times of his life, from the day he was born.
When will the baby flip his body?
When will the toddler take his first step?
When will the child learn to pour a cup of water without spilling, without help?
Every single thing has its own timing.
MISS IT and you will not find it back.
The young child asked for the first time: “Mummy, I can help you do this.”
The happy but over-protective mummy said: “No, you are too young. Thank you. You should go play. I will do this myself.”
On another occasion, the young child comes again offering help.
But the mummy continued to reject.
Sooner or later, the child stopped asking because it is instilled in his mind that his help is not needed.
Years later, the Mummy asked: “Son, can you help me do this?”
The child said: “Why me?! Ask someone else.”
Or he will do it UNWILLINGLY.
Does that make him a bad boy?
Does that mean he is an unhelpful boy?
My answer is NO!
The problem is, when the TIME came for him to feel confident of himself, to be a useful person, his help was rejected.
Doing the right thing at the right time is very important.
In most things, TIMING is the key to success, as well as failure.
Missed it and You will Lose it.
My children offered to help me cut ingredients when they were only 3 or 4 years old.
Did I allow?
But I was standing beside them with my eyes opened wide, watching them like a hawk.
When I said I allowed my children, during the toddler and preschool years, to do something NEW for the FIRST TIME, it does not mean I am NOT there to intervene when mishap is about to happen.
But once they entered Primary School, I will give them more trust.
I may be standing from afar…..watching.
Or I may not be there at all, in the case of them coming home from school on their own.
When I show them that I trust them, that they will do well in what they requested, my children learn to have more confidence in themselves and I get respect in return.
Of ‘cos there had been failures.
They wanted to do something.
In the end, the job was not well done.
For example, when they were still toddlers, they wanted to bring a cup of water from the kitchen to the living room.
Water was spilled on the floor.
Was the job well done?
They clean up their own mess.
Hence they learned.
Without mistakes made, lessons would not be learned.
The next time, they poured lesser water in the cup.
They will walk slower with the cup of water in their hands.
These are GREAT learning experiences.
Don’t fear them, Embrace them.
This year, there had been occasions where the kids had to be alone at home for a few minutes.
I gave them perfect scores because they did not have their usual siblings fights and the walls of my house were still intact. *huge laugh*
These are signs, showing that they are ready for the next level towards being fully independent.
Last Saturday, Allan and I were offered a new business opportunity.
A business that Allan did not feel comfortable without me in it.
A business which both of us had to be there because of our different life experiences and hence view points.
We had no idea how long the business talk would last with our new business partners, therefore bringing the kids along would create frustration in them as they wait aimlessly.
I did not want to trouble my in-laws to ‘look after’ them as well.
As I record this down, I find it funny that I am more comfortable with my boys being on their own out of the house as compared to when they are in the house.
Maybe because they fight more often at home.
Maybe because Kitkit has the tendency of using the stove to cook something to fill his tummy.
Many would feel that home is the safest place.
Many would probably try leaving the kids at home alone first BEFORE allowing them to come home from school on their own.
*laugh* But my actions proved otherwise.
And I did not realise that till now.
My fear of them being alone at home is far greater than when they are outside.
Alright, once again, I am weird.
Anyways, when it comes to such decision, its NEVER mine alone.
Its the KIDS’!
Kitkit’s and Binbin’s views are more important than ours when such choices need to be made.
I need their commitment.
I need their cooperation.
I need their self-discipline.
Therefore, I need their consent, willingly!
We told them the situation.
The PROs and CONs of going with us versus them being alone at home.
They were comfortable with the decision of them being alone at home. *thumbs up*
Not that we were afraid that they may burn down the house or anything of that sort. *laugh*
But we downloaded Skype on their mobile phones before we left the house.
We spent minutes to teach Kitkit how to use it.
Demonstrated how to use the video with different views (at his face or at the house) without the need to turn the mobile phone literally.
They felt more secure being able to SEE us than hear our voices only.
My 8 year old, as usual, is open to all sorts of challenges and often thinks its more fun than fear.
My 10 year old, feels apprehensive as to whether he will be able to cope, yet feels excited at the same time, because he had the chance to do what we often forbid when we are around.
Emotions Complexity at its best!
We did use Skype when we were far from one another, its FUN! ……….and I cannot deny that it made my heart grew fonder that very instant when I saw their faces on my mobile phone.
Few days before last Saturday, I asked the boys: “What would you do if Papa and I are not at home for few hours?”
I was VERY surprised with their answers.
Both of them said: “Do worksheets lor!”
And so I granted their wish on last Saturday!
Gave them a (NOT LONG but standard) list of worksheets to be completed when Allan and I were away.
Did they do the worksheets diligently?
They are KIDS!!!!
When the cat is away, the mouse comes out to play!
They switched on the XBox and played first BEFORE doing the worksheets, which was a big no-no when I am around.
Yet, I must say that I am VERY VERY PLEASED when I reached home after more than 4 hours.
They were HONEST about breaking that rule.
Yet, Binbin managed to finish that list of assignments.
Kitkit could not complete his list. His reasons were: There were questions which he did not understand and needed my help to explain; and he had been COACHING Binbin when the latter faced issues with his worksheets.
*SUPER THUMBS UP*
Very soon, Allan and I can go on overseas trips together without the kids!
I do NOT see that coming till another 8 years time, I think…..
Writing this blog post makes me REALLY Happy.
My boys are learning independence in different areas at the pace that they should be.
Well, in comparison to my own journey towards independence, they are considered SLOW already!
Whatever that they are capable of doing now, in terms of independence, I had already mastered it when I was 7 years old.
Ha! What a show off!
I am happy with my parenting beliefs and parenting style so far, even though I have little or no support from people around me…
From my children’s behaviour, thoughts, attitude and most importantly, their responses to non-family members are often well received, strangers included.
For now, I can say, I am very contented with the fruits of my labour.
I hope the rest of my parenting journey will continue to bear good fruits.
Are you seeing the fruits of your labour?
Do you like what you see?
I do with mine.
Another Milestone? Leaving Them Alone At Home