Independence…something everyone wants for himself, but seldom is quick to grant to others!  It is our annual celebration of the 4th of July, which keeps this word active in our vocabularies.  The very thought of independence for our children or our spouse is usually not allowed among our active thinking patterns.  Oh yes, the time does come when we’ve changed over a thousand diapers that we start wishing for our child to have independence…at least in bathroom activities!

            Our school policy is that children must be potty-trained before they can enter our three-year-old preschool program.  I never dreamed that so many children today are not independent of diapers by that time.  I’ve listened to many reasons given for this fact: “the new absorbent consumable diapers are keeping children so dry, they are not uncomfortable wearing them,” being the most often reported.  Of course, being of the ripe old age of 73, I am just appalled at this!  

            I did have one mother tell me that her daycare worker told her that children “just all of a sudden become potty-trained around three-and-a half-years.  It just happens.”   I have a great deal of difficulty with this notion since I remember many times of scrambling to the bathroom with my children to catch the “right moment” for them to use the potty.  I also remember training our dogs to use the great outdoors for their personal needs rather than our house.  Both of these situations demanded time and effort on our parts.  I personally think today’s double vocation families are part of the problem.  Day care facilities have their work cut out for them attending to many children at one time.  I at least had a trusted child care provider who assisted me while I worked.

            But alas, this is just one small problem I’ve noticed.  I am amazed at the number of children who are still being breast-fed after they have cut teeth!  Ouch!  I have met one family whose child was still being breast-fed at three years of age.  I’m sorry, but that is more than I can handle in the realm of possibilities.  And, being as opinionated as I am, I certainly do not take well to the new idea of some that mothers should first chew the food themselves and then give it to their children to eat…like the birds do for their young!  Until God gives us wings and feathers, I think I will reserve that “natural way of doing things” for our feathered friends of the forest!

            Where I really am concerned with independence is in the area of helicopter-parenting.  I have addressed this issue before in one of our blogs.  Being too protective of children can stunt their growth as much as anything described above.  Children who are afraid of their own shadows on the playground are at a definite disadvantage.  Instead of exploring and asking that great question, “Why?” they are searching frantically to see if Mommy is still there watching over them carefully.  They miss out so much of discovering the amazing world around them…Yes, even the school playground has much to offer the inquiring mind of most three-year-olds. 

            An area for independence that often is ignored is the doing of homework and chores.  I have also addressed these areas in past blogs.  However, let it be noted here that these two areas must be battlegrounds where the child wins only when he/she can be fully independent!  This battle usually results with wounds to the mother…which occurs when she realizes she must finally cut the apron strings which hold her child tightly to her.  Only then will both parent and child find true independence.