Thursday, March 18, 2010

Growing Independence

I discovered early on in my life as a mom that letting go and fostering independence are a huge part of the process of parenting. The trick is to figure out when and how. This is never clearcut and is different for every child. Something that worked for Walkingstick often does not for Gigglebox. While they are similar in so many ways, they are also dramatically different. Certainly no cookie cutter parenting going on in our house, or anyone else’s I’m sure.

Being the oldest Walkingstick has always embraced independence a bit more quickly than his brother. I, however, am not always so quick to recognize his ability to do so. Because he can be so self sufficient, at times I forget to give the support he needs. Other times I don’t pay attention to all the signs he’s giving me that he is ready to take an independent leap until he gets crabby with me, such as “It’s not your homework, Mom, why are you so worried about it!” Sometimes I need a push rather than a nudge. :P

Gigglebox on the other hands is generally perfectly content to be the little brother and continue his dependence on Mom, Dad, or big brother to do things for him or take on his responsibilities.  However, once he has mastered a task, has supports in place, and the expectation for him to be independent are clear, he usually rises to the occasion. Recently he has begun to recognize his own need for more independence and has pushed us a bit.

As I recognize their differences I am reminded to continually pay attention to the little things. The aspects of their personalities and perspectives that inform me about who they are and how they see the world. When I’m more tuned in, we have fewer struggles. When I’m tuned in, I help them tune in to themselves and those around them. Connecting without expectation of anything in return.

Pema Chodron’s book on compassionate living is entitled Start Where You Are. An amazingly simple statement with profound meaning. Start where I am and start with my children where they are. Not ahead, not behind, but right where we are at this very moment. Being gentle when we (or they) aren't where we think we should be. Being compassionate with ourselves when we realize we started three miles beyond where our little one is.

Be here now. "There is always grace in the present moment," as my dear friend Marie told me yesterday.

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