“What the vast majority of American children needs is to stop being pampered, stop being indulged, stop being chauffeured, stop being catered to. In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” ~ Ann Landers
I’m sure that we can all agree that we want our children to grow up to be “successful human beings” — right? The question is: “How do you define ‘successful?'”
Of course for me, personally, my main measure of success will be whether or not they devote their lives fully to God. OF COURSE I will love them regardless, but I truly hope they find this kind of success. But also, I want my children to be independent, capable and self-sufficient. If, as Ann Landers implies, our children have everything handed to them (material needs, ideas and everything in between) how will they achieve this?
One of Princess’ least favorite things to hear right now is “Be 12.” Any time she groans about doing something for herself or asks me to do something for her so she doesn’t have to I reply, “Be 12, please.” I say this with a smile and an encouraging nudge but she still wrinkles up her nose. When she asks “why?” I say “autonomy.” When she asks what that means I say, “Look it up.” (She wrinkles up her nose again.) (She still hasn’t looked it up. Eventually she’ll get curious.) I’m not trying to be mean, I want her to start thinking, and doing, for herself more and more as she grows and becomes more responsible. This is what we’re training them for — to grow up and know how to take care of themselves.
Autonomy: the quality or state of being self-governing
I’ve been teaching Princess how to do more things on her own: cooking, cleaning, etc. I’ve been LETTING her do more things on her own: baking, sewing, etc. This year she will begin doing science independent of our group lessons and I’ve also been nudging her to take over some areas of grading and record keeping with her schoolwork as well. These are just a few of the milestones on her journey to independence – none of them being “success” in and of themselves but together teaching her how to eventually stand on her own.
This is of course the journey of every mother, not just the homeschooling mother. We teach our children the things they need to know and one day they will live on their own and take care of themselves. But as a homeschooling mom it can be too easy to keep doing the things I’ve always done; in some ways I have to be intentional about this “passing of the torch.” As my children grow I need to give them authority and responsibility over more areas in their lives. As homeschoolers, do we have special opportunities to build this sense of autonomy? I think, perhaps, we do.
The ABC’s of Homeschooling is hosted by Dawn @ The Momma Knows.