Saturday, November 12, 2011

Freedom to reject is the only freedom
~ Salman Rushdie; The Ground Beneath Her Feet

As a parent, one of the hardest things to do is embrace your child's autonomy, especially when it means accepting things that you may disagree with. It is hard to let a child assert her independence, harder still when you think she is making foolish choices. Every bone in your body wants to protect your child. But this has to be tempered with allowing your child to make mistakes.

Unless the consequences are life-threatening, mistakes are precious learning opportunities and your child should be allowed to experience them. Your child needs to test her strength and find out what her limits are*. If you interfere with this natural process, your child may be forced to go underground to assert herself (rebellion). Worse, you may quash her will, becoming her inner compass and she may end up quite lost in a world that feels hostile and alien without you (anxiety).

Sometimes what is called for is non-action, calm abiding, just standing by your child and showing her you have faith in her ability to overcome adversity.

*Oppositional behaviour begins during the terrible twos, when your toddler says NO to everything, whether it is good or bad for her. It subsides a bit during the latter years of childhood but then rears its head again, quite violently at times, during adolescence. It is a normal part of becoming independent.

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