A few days ago I was in school attending a meeting “Principal’s Forum for high school”. I got a call from my daughter. It was a very unusual time to get a call from her. I picked up the phone, and she wanted to know if I was at home. I told her, I am not at home but school. Then I asked, what she wanted? She said she has forgotten her wallet at home and needed money for lunch. I said she should manage it from her friends, but she insisted; she needs the money. I pushed her again to manage the problem herself. But no she insisted - I give her the money as I am in school. OK, I told her to come to the conference room and get it from me. I knew she would find this solution more difficult than just borrowing it from her friends and return it to them later. Yes, indeed she did not come to me, and I knew she was not starving!
If we as parents solve their problems all the time, they will not learn to fend for themselves. We want to make them independent or better interdependent on their eco-system. They need to learn to develop their own support system. We should look at ourselves as part of their eco-system and not the other way round.
When your baby is born you are the whole world to her. All she needs is you to everything. She won't even trust anyone other than you. This is the tiniest eco-system she knows at that time. Soon she would know other family members and her caregivers; then little ones she plays with; other frequently visiting members to the family; the extended family; playschool friends and teacher; formal school friends and teachers, other friends in the neighbourhood; friends she makes through tours and trips, etc. Her horizon expands, and she develops relationships in her own way. To make her independent or better interdependent, we should learn to slowly withdraw as well as coach her where to look for help when she needs it. Parenting is here coaching and also learning to stop solving all her problems or worse save her from being trapped in problems — “helicopter parents”. Growing up is like a training field, she needs to try and try till she succeeds. The only shortcut is — keep trying. We have to learn to get tougher inside as it hurts every time your kid fails but the truth is you are equipping her to solve little problems now that actually propels her being able to face bigger and bigger challenges later. The best thing as parents we can nurture is helping them develop this world around them. As they grow more and more independent you will feel proud as well as you will fondly miss the nurturing joy that you got when you were doing everything for her. A key point to remember here is that both parents should be in synch when you push her to do something which she may resist initially. Else the game of who loves more will start. So watch out!
As a kid, I was fortunate to have a lot of freedom, and my eco-system was spread well outside of the home. It is the community that you grow up in. It allows you to form bonds with many unknowns that help you to learn to trust people. You are not always right but does not matter, the first time you might be misled occasionally, but you will know it well, the next time with the same person. An interdependent eco-system is the survival kit. The earlier we start nurturing it, the better it is.