When I was a nanny entrusted with the care of numerous children, I’ve had the privilege of working with parents who not only believed in my abilities but shared a common philosophy on raising independent kids (yes, this can start as early as 18 months old!) The primary goal of parenting, in our view, is to nurture happy, well-rounded, and self-sufficient individuals.
In my observation, many parents from my generation (Generation X) have unintentionally hindered their children’s independence through what is commonly referred to as “helicopter parenting.” This style has resulted in teenagers who struggle to function independently, even beyond their college years. It’s disheartening to witness 16 to 18-year-olds hesitant to obtain a driver’s license, relying on others for transportation, and avoiding responsibilities such as waking up for school, preparing meals, or managing household chores.
At our home, we embrace a “diplomatic style” of parenting, where we believe children should take responsibility for their actions, behaviors, choices, and decisions, recognizing that life naturally presents consequences. We stand in contrast to helicopter parenting, advocating for our children to make choices and learn from them.
We pose a crucial question: How can children become competent and self-reliant if we constantly make decisions for them and rescue them from every mistake? We refuse to deliver forgotten homework, act as alarm clocks, or take over responsibilities that our children are fully capable of handling themselves. Whether it’s washing laundry or addressing academic challenges, we believe in letting our children face the consequences of their actions.
In instances of academic performance, rather than intervening directly, we offer incentives to motivate improvement. Every A earns a reward, while lower grades come with corresponding consequences. This approach instills a sense of accountability without shielding them from the outcomes of their choices.
Our role as parents is to empower our children by providing opportunities for them to learn, stumble, and rise again—the essence of the world they will navigate as adults. Reflect on your parenting goals: do you aim to micromanage them in college, or do you aspire to raise happy, competent, and self-reliant adults capable of navigating their teen years? Embrace the journey of letting go, allowing your children to make decisions, and facilitating their growth without unnecessary interference.
-Dara Yates, CEO Seaside Staffing Co.