Space to think

What’s the long-term effect of quieting down, backing off, and getting out of the way of your child’s growing independence? The effect is enormous and multifaceted. I know because almost three years ago I started doing just that. Charlotte, then six, showed me I was on the wrong path. She pushed for change without even knowing it and I found a way to listen.

illuminated brain graphicSo after six years of squelching her independence, rescuing her from all things unpleasant, and barking out orders day after day, I finally stepped back and gave her some space to think.

The change has been like a low, slow, powerful rumble — sometimes loud, sometimes soft, sometimes barely audible. But after almost three years to practice thinking for herself, here’s what I heard last night:

Me: “Fenner, would you be willing to empty the dishwasher in the next 5 minutes?”

Charlotte: “I’ll do it!!! … Fenner, the only reason I’m doing this is to give you an appreciation for me at the next family meeting. So you’d better write it on the board!…Oh, my gosh, tomorrow’s a school day! I need to shower! What time is it? Ok, I have to shower after this and then I’m going right upstairs to bed. But first I’m going to make my lunch to save time in the morning because when I get up I’m usually tired and I like to lie down again for thirty minutes…Mom, I think I need to start going to bed earlier…also, I’ve decided to do my laundry every ten days…”

And this morning:

“I don’t feel like going to school, but the problem is, if you skip, they still make you do the work, so it feels like extra … which I think is not fair if you’re sick because it’s not your fault, but then when you finally get better, you have all this extra work to do. [pause] Anyway, bye mom!”

And she hopped out of the car. Her thoughts. Her choice. Her life.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Miscellaneous

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2 Comments on “Space to think”

  1. Vicki Says:

    Flying high after reading your post. Sometimes I wish I still had my 5 wee ones with me so you and I could share day-to-day experiences. What fun it would be to share what 8 independent, creative, curious, innovative kids were up to. Big love to all Catha.

    • flockmother Says:

      Helloooooo! Oh, what fun that would be. Here’s another tidbit: For the past several weeks, Ellen and Charlotte have been leaving the house most days at 6:55 to catch the bus. They leave before I get downstairs. I don’t even see them…don’t even SEE them! (More on that in my next post!) Big love to you!


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