When we become parents, we dream of our kids growing to become independent thinkers, to find a career they love, and perhaps eventually grow a family of their own.
As much as we might think we want to keep our kids close forever, we most definitely don’t want them living in our basement playing video games at 30 years old.
It makes me sad that my daughters are now living so far away from me, but we’ve found ways to stay connected and it brings me so much joy to watch them both find their way. Sometimes they do things that I don’t love, and sometimes they make mistakes, but that’s all part of the process. And watching them learn and continue to grow well into their 20s is priceless.
At LEADPrep, we see the value in independence. Our kids still need a guide and mentor, but the value of allowing students to make mistakes so they can learn from them. And that’s a gift all parents and teachers need to give.
It’s hard. Really hard. Watching our children struggle feels impossible. Like when they forget a school supply at home and you’re at work, unable to come to the rescue and bring it to them. Or when they believe that online ad and buy something on a whim, only to find out that the product is sub-par.
But it’s a lot safer for kids to make mistakes now, when they’re young, than when they’ve flown the coop and on their own. A $20 mistake today is a lot better than a $2,000 mistake later.
That means that we, parents and teachers and mentors, can’t always rescue them. We need to let them sit in the hurt and frustration and let them figure it out for themselves.
It also means that we can’t always be there to remind them of deadlines or entertain them when they’re bored. They won’t always have us to do that, and it’s important that they learn how to cope now.
Earlier this year, I interviewed Lenore Skenazy on the Education Evolution podcast. Lenore created a media firestorm when she published a column entitled “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone” back in 2008.
You might be shocked by her actions, and she certainly received her share of backlash. But Lenore saw the value in making sure her young child knew how to navigate not just the subway system, but life.
Our podcast interview isn’t just about making sure our kids grow up to be independent adults. We also talk about creating free, unstructured time for them where we, the adults, aren’t guiding their play or learning. We’re letting them figure it out.
The end result is confident children who can make decisions for themselves, solve problems, and entertain themselves when we’re not around. So that, hopefully, once we launch them into the world, they can continue to do this and thrive.
Listen in to our conversation below.