Friday, October 29, 2010


Learning to be independent is like learning to play a musical instrument. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many sheets of music you read, or how many times you look at the instrument, you have to practice. As scary as it may be, we must evaluate the risk and then allow whomever it is the opportunity to do things on their own. As time passes and they have proven to be able to handle that level of responsibility we raise the bar. Within a short period of time you look up and they have gone from playing snippets of the simplest of songs with your guidance, to playing full length songs alone. What I think we must all remind ourselves is that this kind of progress only comes as a result of practice and taking calculated risk. I stress the word "calculated" because allowing someone to take on too much responsibility before they are ready to handle it, can also have an adverse effect. I look at it as age appropriate responsibility, similar to age appropriate behavior. However it’s important to understand that age refers more to one's responsibility age, than one's physical one. 

Driving is a good example. Although I am sure that there are many 12 year olds that are tall enough and physically capable to drive a car, we wouldn’t allow them to because it would be putting them in a position to fail - potentially hurting them from the natural process into healthy independence. Similarly, there are 16 year olds that although of legal age, are still not ready either and must be carefully guided and allowed more time to mature. That being said there are also 15 yr olds that the moment they sit being the wheel of a car are capable of the responsibility of driving the car as best as one can understand that responsibility. It’s a careful balance to decide who, where and when but if we don’t have the opportunity to practice we will never learn. If we reflect on our own lives and what we have learned, it was only by taking chances and practicing, that we improved and grew as individuals to become strong, confident and independent .   

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