There Is Such Thing As Too Much Independence

I have a friend who is fond of saying of her children that she spends the first two years of their lives trying to get them to walk and talk and the next ten years trying to get them to sit down and shut up.  Oh how I can relate. 

As a parent I stumbled through the first few years of my children’s lives in a sleep-deprived stupor.  I loved it, but the constant need for attention and assistance gets old.  The only thing that has gotten me this far is the perceived light at the end of the tunnel.  Well, that and a lot of prayer.  And wine.  Ahem.

For some reason I kept thinking that when they got a little older and could do more for themselves, it would get easier.  In fact, I’ve had other mothers promise me that yes, it does get easier.

But what I’m realizing, as my kids get older, and that independence comes with a pricetag.  I am constantly finding my 8-year-old son trying to do things that he has no business doing.  And even when he does things that are acceptable, he leaves behind a trail of evidence that I have to clean up.  It’s a double-edged sword.  I do appreciate that I don’t have to do everything for him, but sometimes I wonder if I spend just as much time going along behind him and picking up the pieces as I would if I did it myself.

Case in point: yesterday morning it was a little chilly in the house.  I had the windows open because I enjoy the fresh air, but I had put on a sweatshirt so I wouldn’t be cold.  My son came bee-bopping down the stairs and announced, "I’m cold!"  I told him to put on a sweatshirt and that, I thought, was the end of it.

About a half-hour later I felt quite warm and thought it curious that it had warmed up so soon, but I thought nothing else of it and removed my sweatshirt.  Another half-hour passed, and a friend stopped by to drop off her son for babysitting.  As she was standing in my foyer preparing to leave, she mentioned that there was heat coming out of the vent on the floor.


I felt it, and sure enough, heat was emanating from the vent.  I knew immediately what had happened.  As soon as my friend made her exit, I marched into the family room where my son was happily playing video games in his short-sleeved pajamas.

Sternly, "D, did you turn on the heat?"

Sheepishly, "Yeah."

More firmly this time, "DON’T do that again!"  After which ensued a lecture on the cost of heat and starving children in Africa, which I’m pretty sure went in one ear and out the other.

I’m thrilled he’s becoming more independent, but I might be completely gray by the time he’s ten.

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26 thoughts on “There Is Such Thing As Too Much Independence

  1. It does not get easier, the areas of frustation simply change as the years pass. You have to teach them independance and in turn you and Miss Clariol will become great friends. My Sunday School teaches says to remember that with teaching and delegation comes lack of control. When I delegate that my daughters clean their own room I realize that it will be done to their idea of what clean is, not mine. It drives me crazy (and my wine consumption has increased over the years) but I also realize I am trying to raise independent adults who will one day leave my house and will hopefully know how to make food, do laundry and clean toilets. In the meantine, I try to get over myself and attempt to enjoy their journey toward independance.

  2. I tell my kids that when they can afford to pay for the fuel that heats the house THEN they can put the heat up…I’m constantly running into the same problem! I really love when they decide to put the A/C on and keep all the windows in the house wide open…enjoy your day!

  3. I always thought it got easier as they got older but I not so sure. We call our girls “little bunnies” because for some reason they always leave a trail behind them! You always know where they have been :}


  4. That is too funny. I find it ironic that I’m trying to raise my kids to be strong, independent thinkers. I just don’t want them to do their independent thinking when I’m telling them to do something! 🙂

  5. hmmm… I’ve been holding out on the thought that one day my 9 month old will at least be able to do some things for himself and my life will get just a tad easier. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side eh?

  6. I hate it when they try to be in charge of things like that. Hello! You’re a child! Not in charge!

    Excellent job the “starving in Africa” lecture. Your mother would be proud.

  7. Oh my gosh- I just had the SAME conversation with Noah (7 years old.) I am PREGNANT and hot so the house is constantly cold. The other day I was upstairs and just felt so hot and just looked at him and said – did you touch the thermostat? He looked guilty and I found it almost on 90! AH!


  8. The good news is that he’s not a lemming and can think for himself. You tell him to put a sweatshirt on and he decided to turn on the heat instead. You gotta admire that for a half a second.

    Then the lecture on the cost of heat and phrases like ‘paying to heat the neighborhood’ can proceed as normal. Thanks for the warning. I love the preview of life to come that I get from reading blogs of moms with kids older than Princess. In her case I’d probably find her trying to start a fire in the fireplace.

  9. As a mother of 24 and 22 year old boys and 18 and 15 year old girls I have learned many life lessons. One of them is “It doesn’t get easier, it just get’s different” This so applies to parenting. As they get older, certain things get easier the physical part of parenting but the emotional part of parenting does not get easier and I think may even get harder. Parenting teenagers and young adults is wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for anything but I don’t think I would say it’s easier – just different!

  10. My 8 year old son did that this summer. My husband’s mom was watching the kids while we went to dinner. We came home the the A/C was set at 60 degrees. When we asked him why he did it, he said, “Grandma said she was hot, so I turned it down”. He didnt realize she was having hot flashes!

  11. Uh-oh! We have had that problem….only my kids think its fun to play with the thermostats. Not because they know what it does, but because its a slidy thing they think is fun!

    Anyway, we have electric heat….I know, awful! BUT, this gives us an advantage. We NOW turn off the breakers in the summer…hence, nothing happens! ha!

    Good luck!

  12. I just had to comment again…my husband also loves to put the heat up high. I’m talking 80 sometimes, because HE’S COLD…and walking around in a t-shirt in the middle of the winter! I tell him to please put on a sweater and leave the temperature alone!

  13. A wise friend with older children told me that when your kids are young, it’s physically harder. When your kids are older it’s emotionally harder.

    I suppose everything is a life lesson. Think of how much garbage the Lord picks up for us! Ha ha! How many time have you gotten on your knees and said “Please God, help me with this, I’ll never do it again!”

  14. We have a lock on our thermostat. It got the point that Hunter would go downstairs in the middle of the night and change it from cold to heat…in July. Not cool. We made him pay part of the gas bill that month. Cost him a bit too.

    I have heard that it gets easier too, but I haven’t seen that part yet. Let me know when you do!

  15. I took the knobs off of the thermostats the girls can reach and they can not make the pointy things turn with their little fingers. I know it won’t be too long until we have the “touch it again, and….” discussion.

  16. Ah yes, there is a price to pay…I’m still paying it with 4 men in the house…who CONSTANTLY fight about the temp in the house!
    At least they invented hair color…why do you think I use it every 3 weeks? 🙂

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