Four Tips on How to Build Strong, Independent Children

I recently read an article on Facebook about eight things that you should quit doing for your teenagers.  This article contains a list of eight things that writer will no longer do for her teenage children. She believes that she is teaching life skills to her sons by making them more independent.  This mom says that her parenting goal is to “raise competent and capable adults.” Her plan of action is to back off and let her kids stand on their own two feet.

The concept of teaching your children independence is great especially in today’s society where over twenty-two million adults between the age of 18 and 34 live with their parents.  Almost forty percent of young adults still live with their parents or other relatives.  Personally, I don’t want my children living with me at age 30.  That is not good for parents or children.  Everyone wants his children to become competent and capable adults.  Unfortunately, I was highly disappointed with her article.  I think her advice was terrible and I would recommend doing the opposite of just about everything on her list.

Now, I do not claim to be an expert in parenting but I have a lot of experience with teenagers.  I have taught school for nearly twenty years and I have two sons who are Marines and full time college students, so feel like I am as qualified as the author of this article to give parenting advice.  Here is my list of how to raise independent and competent adults.

  1. Go to church as often as possible.  In fact make it a habit to go Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday. Going to church whenever the doors are open teaches commitment to something greater than them and your children should learn good moral behaviors.  In all actuality, I could probably end the list with “go to church as much as possible” but I will continue my list because just like in the classroom some people do not pay attention in church.
  2. Model and teach appropriate behavior.  Parents are the most important teachers their children will ever have because no one has more influence on a child’s behavior than their parents.  Children copy the behaviors and actions of their parents. If parents do drugs, it is highly likely that their children will also use drugs.  On the other hand, if parents want their children to become hard working adults then the parent needs to be a hard working adult.  All children, including teens, mimic the behaviors of their parents so it is imperative for parents to be good role models.  Instead of being a couch potato, go for walks and exercise.  Instead of watching television, read books.  If a parent’s goal is to have independent and competent adults, then they should model appropriate behavior.
  3. Parents need to be active in their teen’s education.   As a teacher, one of the biggest problems that I see is a lack of involvement by parents.  Teens need parents who are active in their lives. Teens need to know their parents are concerned about them and their education.  I do not think parents should fight all of their children’s battles at school, but parents need to know what battles their children are fighting.  Teens will consult and seek advice from someone. It is much better that they get their advice from parents instead of their buddy in homeroom. Countless teens have had the future tragically ruined because their parents are less involved in their lives than the local hoodlums.  Teens need to build a strong educational foundation to succeed later in life.   If parents want their children to be strong independent adults, they need to make sure their teen is getting a strong educational foundation.
  4. Be a good husband or wife. One of the biggest reasons children return home is divorce.  Obviously, no parent wants their child to go through a divorce so I believe being a good husband or wife is a crucial part of raising teens to become strong independent adults.  Sons and daughters need to learn how they should treat their future spouse and how their future spouse should treat them.  It is important to be the best husband or wife that they you can be, not only for their relationship, but also for their teens future relationships.

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