Lately, I find myself fielding more frequent questions and observations from the small Bears on the subject of what we do and what other people do. It comes as no surprise; they're getting older and they are learning more about themselves and their places in the world. They understand the basics: every family makes its own decisions, and what may be right for some is not right for all. That doesn't make the discussion less challenging, though.
There aren't very many truly controversial decisions being made in their world yet. But there are smaller ones, and they crop up all the time. I'm sure this only increases as children grow. Then there's the challenge of answering this sort of question: I want to uphold my own household's rules and values, without openly denouncing those of another (well, I try not to do this, but sometimes I can't help it). We value independence and clear-headed decision-making, the Bear and I, but we're certainly not perfect (as parents or otherwise). We're confident in our choices but we're still learning too. I hope that never ends; I don't think I'll ever know exactly what life should be like.
I'm glad they notice the differences between themselves and their peers. I want them to be engaged with their world and to see that people are inclined in all different sorts of ways. It's a tough thing to teach, though, this idea that we make our choices and they make theirs, and that not all choices have a chocolate-or-vanilla quality to them. I have had glimpses of success in this area, but it's early. For now, we strive to help them feel good about who they are. I know they will need to make bigger choices in the not-so-distant future and this may not be enough then, but I hope it builds a good foundation for independent thinking and decision-making later on.
What do you think kids need to be independent, to learn to think for themselves? If you're still in the process, what are you doing about it? If your kids are grown, how did you do it?
I hope you had a nice Easter and that you're enjoying this week, especially if you're on a holiday break. We're going to be out of town for a few days on a little road-trip adventure. I'll be back by the time my Winter Project Link Party for April goes live; I hope you'll want to join in with this final installment of my link party for the season!