So we just threw the word happy our of the parental lexicon…

Independent was a word that a few people threw out as a possible substitution, and I think that’s a pretty good choice…

“Yes my dear child. I just want you to be independent.”

I like the sound of it. But what does it mean? And more importantly, how do we guide our child towards independence?

For purposes of our discussion, let’s say that being independent means being self sufficient- knowing what you need and how to achieve it. Being able to take care of yourself. Don’t all parents want to know that their kid knows how to survive?


The problem with a kid learning how to become independent is that many parents aren’t thrilled with the idea of their kids being able to exist without them. It makes parents superfluous. One minute they’re parents…the next…nothing…

Let’s throw in a real life example: A few weeks ago, my Sister in Law told my Husband that their Mother was upset with my Husband. (Yes- this is what passes for communication in his family- just look up passive aggressive in the dictionary) Why was MIL upset? Because my husband never asks her for anything. That’s right- he is independent and able to take care of his needs, and his Mother isn’t happy about it. She needs to be needed…

Unfortunately, when you have parents like this, it often skews your thinking. My daughter whined over the weekend about how she wants someone to pick her up from school for Christmas break. FYI- we don’t own a car, and there is a perfectly good train line from DC to NYC. My Husband was beginning to relent, while I made the case that she wasn’t a hobo jumping onto a freight train with her stick and bandana full of possessions hanging off her back. She takes Amtrak- with nice seats and wifi and ability to charge your electronics. Bathroom and snack car. This isn’t exactly slumming it…

My husband was trying to be nice, but he was also trying to make it easy for her. (He was also trying to make her happy, but that’s yesterdays blog) He also likes the thought that she still needs him.

My thought is that she has to learn to get to and fro on her own- it’s part of the learning experience. I want her to know that she can do it. It boosts up your confidence when you learn to do new things- when you figure our how to get by.

Yesterday morning we got a text: my daughter got a great price (yay on cyber Monday deals) on a train ticket home at the perfect time for her to leave school. No one needed to pick her up at school- she would make it home by herself (exactly like she did for Thanksgiving)

Finding a good price. Knowing your schedule. Figuring out how to get home. These are all life skills. These are the skills that lead you towards becoming independent.

Independent is a good thing. It doesn’t mean you don’t need someone anymore. It just means you have the ability to survive on your own. And don’t we all want to know that our kids have the means to survive?

49 thoughts on “Make it Easy

  1. I love this. If they aren’t independent then we haven’t done our job well. I have a recurring nightmare in which a tornado is threatening our town and I can’t seek shelter until all of my loved ones have been rounded up to take shelter with me. The point of this is, as the kids get older you want them to have the tools to seek their own shelter, right? It’s the tools that matter.

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      1. Both of our kids live in different states. They’ve got busy lives and do well by all accounts. We have friends who’ve moved to be near their grown kids only to have the kids move again. In fact the people who built the home we purchased built the house right next door to their daughter’s home and down the street from their son’s. The daughter moved and the couple we bought from moved to be close to her. Crazy!

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  2. and she might make a new friend. I remember leaving the city when I was 18 taking the train to New York from Long Island and then the bus to the Catskill Mountains. I always reveled in my independence. It was an adventure even the 42nd street bus terminal where I knew how to act and how to get the tickets from the weekend trips with my mom. She will probably enjoy the independence. I did while at college that first year.

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  3. I think most parents would be totally psyched about an increasingly independent child making their own way home for the holidays.. Of course it’s that same, wonderful sense of growing independence that will one day have that same child taking the train somewhere other than home for the holidays.. 😲 That’s when the struggle for parents gets real!

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      1. Hey, I noticed something funny..I saw your comment “nothing wrong with that” and thought you were referring to my response to your post about kids choosing NOT to come home for the holidays..I’m thinking wow..she’s pretty tough New Yorker! Meanwhile I respond that “it’s an adjustment and I have friends who struggle with it” thinking we are talking about the kids not coming home…and you probably conclude I’m talking about being honest..from MY POST..thinking who the heck are her friends who struggle with and have to “adjust to” being honest? HAHA- clearly NEED MORE COFFEE!!

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  4. Some thoughts, although I totally agree with you by the way!

    Does the age of the parent come into play on the need scale- meaning are folks of my generation more readily able to foster independence in their kids because we were raised to be independent and self-sufficient. Well, I was anyway 🙂

    What part do societal issues play in fostering independent kids? Lots of craziness out in the world now. Is that an excuse to hover or a valid reason to want to oversee their life?

    What about our educational system? I’m going way back now, to critical thinking skills. If everything is handed to kids from early on in every situation they encounter at home and in their classrooms then when or how do they actually make the step to independence?

    As you like to say LA: Discuss!

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    1. I don’t think age of the parent matters. My mil is older than you, but was never raised to be independent, and doesn’t really want it in her kids. I think it comes down to how content and confident a person is. If someone is happy in their own skin they’re more likely to want to raise an independent child. People who feel they “need” kids to lead a fulfilling life are probably prone to this thinking too. My mom was overprotective long before it was fashionable (statistics wise, and forgetting the Internet, it was actually less safe years ago…it just wasn’t reported, or talked about) but regardless of danger, you have to teach your kid to be aware of situations and what dangers are out there. Helicoptering is just bad…there is no reason to oversee your kids life. They need to learn consequences and how to actually make decisions. They don’t learn if you don’t let them…and educationally….I agree…lack of critical thinking skills. Also parents undermining what the teachers are trying to do

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  5. I’m not sure where to begin. 😉 First I’d like to say the image of your daughter as a hobo jumping on a freight train made me laugh. 😂😂 IMO, there’s a difference between your husband wanting to make her happy (that’s him wanting to be needed) and wanting her to be happy (yesterday’s topic) because it’s taking away her independence which we agree is the key to *happiness* or whatever we’re calling it.
    But now on to the meat of today’s post. I’m with you 💯 on raising independent children as the key to giving them the tools to find their own happiness. My mother said, “If you do your job right as a parent, they grow up and move away.” This was in response to a friend of hers who was lamenting that her children weren’t coming back to Chicago after college. If that is the measure of success, I win! 😂 3 independent children living 1000 miles or more away from me. 🤷🏼‍♀️ But seriously, when I see parents overwhelmed with *grief* because their child turned 5, or started first grade, or graduated high school, or whatever milestone they believe is a sign of them becoming obsolete, it makes me want to yell. “This is what is supposed to happen! You should be celebrating their achievements, not worrying about your status!” End of rant.

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    1. I know! I always say a parents job is to let them go. It’s the people who don’t accept this that have the issues. It doesn’t mean they don’t love us…it just means they’ve forged their own path

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  6. Yes! Independent. I don’t mind that the kids don’t need me as much anymore. I’m even rethinking getting the dog – LOL just kidding. It does mean that I have done my job well if they are able to take care of themselves. I had my daughter and her friend calling me about 10 times on Thanksgiving as they were trying to cook their first turkey. There will always be something they come to you for. LOL your MIL. I think mine is the same way as she seems to favor the son that is still living with her at age 64 instead of my husband who has been independent all his life.

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  7. Yes yes and yes! Independent! I struggle with my kids’ independence because I feel like they are so sheltered. Perhaps because of me. Perhaps because of this day and age. Perhaps because of the divorce . Perhaps because of their personalities and the anxiety that plagues them. Probably from a mixture of all of the above.
    Independent doesn’t mean they don’t need us. They’ll always need a loving parent/role model. I have been working on instilling that independence because they need it to survive and thrive in this world. Good for you! Great post LA!

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  8. Both my family and Hubby’s family were very much caretakers. His mom came and cleaned his house, brought him food, even paid his bills (from his checking) when he first moved out. Because that was the way he was raised, he never really thought about it until he started dating. That’s when he realized how not normal the whole thing was and told her to stop. His sister lived at home until she was in her mid 30s and to this day spends her weekends with their dad (my MIL passed 11 years ago) watching movies so she doesn’t have to get cable at home. Neither one of my brothers ever really learned how to do much for themselves. My nephew fell into the same patterns as he grew up. They all still rely on and expect my parents to at least help with all the stuff that comes up, if not take care of it for them. My mother got exceptionally cranky whenever I didn’t ask for the same kind of help, something I quit doing not long after my divorce because I realized all the strings and ugliness that came with that control.

    Seeing these things on both sides, my Hubby and I made it a huge point to make sure our kids learned to be independent. I’m sure by some standards (my mother is absolutely one of them), we pushed them to be too independent, too soon. Part of that for me is also about teaching them personal responsibility. The two really kind of go hand in hand. If you are independent, then you are the only one responsible for you actions so you can’t push the blame for your mistakes or actions on someone else. This is again motivated by seeing all the mess I did growing up and I wanted my kids to be functional adults that didn’t expect to still live at home when they were fully grown adults with jobs (or worse, refusing to get a job).


    1. You’re right about the personal responsibility thing. It’s right up there with the blame gamers…people need to stop blaming outside influencers fir why they don’t succeed

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  9. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to see how independent your kids have become. Proud of them but then I wonder if anything I taught them was carried forward. But, independence also means they don’t have to do it my way. The journey is their journey and how they travel is their decision. Hora for independent children who grow into productive independent thinking and productive adults!!!

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  10. Totally agree. It’s so important to raise your kids to be independent. I love that little quote about giving our children roots to grow and wings to fly. You know you’ve done a good job if they’re confident and capable enough to go off and live independently.

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  11. I too believe teaching independence is important. My “kids” are 24, 30, and 33. Sometimes I wish they would need me more but then I am always happy that they find their own way in life and they still make time for mom! When my youngest moved out I also had to learn independence. By this I mean I had to learn to be on my own and not be needed. I was bound and determined not to have empty nest syndrome . So I decided to climb down the Grand Canyon for the first time and have kept having adventure since! At first the kids thought mom lost her marbles but I think now they respect that I have my own life too and just shake their heads!!

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  12. oh my goodness, I just laughed as I read this post…….NOT because it is funny but because there are so many things I could write but won’t ……. it would look as if I was taking over your blog. awesome post as always – very deep and extremely complicated subject 🙂

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