Monday, July 9, 2012

"Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"

Somewhere between the ages of 2 1/2 and 4, children begin to assert themselves. When a child says "NO" to you it might be frustrating, but in reality it is a positive sign of growth. Young children do not know where they begin and you end. When they say "NO" it is the first sign that they are trying to become their own person. Parents too, do not often know the proper boundaries between themselves and their child. Many of us have heard the phrase, "You are not the boss of me." Here are a few examples of ways that children express the need to separate and become their own person:

My grandson who just turned three has become very independent quickly. When he goes to the bathroom he wants to close the door for privacy. He wants to make his own sandwich, spread cream cheese on his bread and pour his own juice.

Another grandmother we know has a grandson who spends weekends with her in the country. Recently she called his name and he didn't respond. She looked all over the house but couldn't find him. She was very frightened and decided to look outside and found him shooting hoops in the back yard. When grandma said, "You know you are never to leave the house without telling me. I was very worried, I didn't know where you were." The child casually replied, "Well, now you know." He wasn't being fresh, he was simply asserting his independence and growing up. This particular grandmother was able to laugh about it but let him know that he must always tell her where he is going.

We want to keep children close, but they need to move on and become independent. Case in point, many mothers we know cannot let go. They are opening cereal boxes and pouring the milk for their teenagers who are perfectly capable of doing this for themselves. Parents need to establish limits at every age and learn how to say no when it is appropriate. We have an epidemic in this country of people who remain dependent well into their thirties, financially and emotionally. Our job as parents is to help our children grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.

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