Monday, November 21, 2011

Independent Children

Opponents of child-led weaning and co-sleeping often express concern that children will never learn to be independent. They need to be pushed outside their comfort zones and learn that parents make the rules. It's not healthy for children to be so dependent on their parents for a sense of security.

My mom co-slept with me when I was an infant (see this post for the difference between co-sleeping and bed-sharing). She recently noted that she doesn't remember how long she nursed me, so chances are good that it was at least a somewhat mutual decision to wean. I was certainly more than a year old.

When I began college, I was very homesick. I went to school about 45 minutes away and took the free shuttle bus home almost every weekend in the beginning. My mom got a fair amount of criticism for allowing me to come home. She maintained that when I was ready, I would decide on my own to be more independent. She didn't encourage my dependence on her and my dad, but neither would she force me to stay at school and be miserable.

When I was a junior in college, I decided to spend a semester in Galway, Ireland. I wanted to learn about a new culture and explore my ethnic heritage. I made the arrangements myself, including travel paperwork, credit transfers, registration, and housing. I was a little afraid that I would be homesick, but I knew it would be worth the risk. I was homesick, for about a week. After that, I loved it.

I lived in a "flat" with three Irish girls and integrated myself into a few different groups of students. I enjoyed myself so much, in fact, that I was reluctant to come home. I thought seriously about extending my stay or completing my coursework in the States and then returning to live in Ireland. My coming-of-age story happened during those five months, around my 21st birthday. I even took a weekend trip to Germany, knowing virtually none of the language. I learned about myself and my vocation. As my parents knew I would, I became an independent adult when I was ready and not a moment before.

My parents are wise. They gave each of their three children the support and freedom they needed to become independent adults. This looked different for each of us as infants, children, teens, and young adults, but the result was the same. We knew we had a safe place to land when we decided to take flight and, in our own time, each of us did. Isn't that what parents want for their children?


  1. What your parents did for you is wonderful and beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing, it is inspiring!

  2. I have certainly been blessed to be raised in such a family.

  3. Liana you're story is so beautiful. It's so nice to see the blogs you write about.