How To Guide Your Children While Respecting Their Need For Independence Pt 1

(Adapted From Aish Ha’Torah Series & Edited With Additions By Rabanit K. Sarah Cohen)

Most parents want the best for their children. Parents accumulate a lot of life experience. Why then do the children become annoyed, frustrated, and act resentful when we offer our advice? Here is a typical scenario:

Daughter: Why do you always tell me what to do?

Mother: You don’t trust me?

Daughter: Do you think I’m stupid? Whatever you said, I thought of that already!

And then, just because you told them to do it, many kids go out of their way to do the opposite.

What’s happening here?

No one likes to be given unsolicited advice, even adults. Some people find it frustrating to be told what to do. People like to figure things out on their own. The same is true with children.

Offering unsolicited advice interferes with their very strong need for independence. They feel a need to separate from us – that’s a natural part of their development. When that happens, we need to remain on the sidelines as much as we can. We should allow them to make their own mistakes and figure things out for themselves, even if it means they’ll struggle with their problems. It’s healthy for them.

That’s why they get tense when we give advice; we are not allowing them their autonomy. Advice is an invitation for them to pushback even more so they can show us that they know what they are doing. As parents, we have a responsibility to share our values and opinions with our children. And it’s painful to sit back and watch them make mistakes that could have been avoided if we would have been “allowed” to help.

But don’t despair. There are ways we can share advice with our children while showing them that we respect their need to be independent. We have to show that we know that they can be relied upon, and we trust them to solve their problems on their own. Once they know that they can rely on us to trust them to make their own decisions, they will be more receptive to us.

Stay Tuned For Part 2…