When Should You Give Your Kids Autonomy? Some Sage Advice

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Parents spend years controlling their children. But eventually, the time comes when you have to let go. Trying to stop them from doing what they want to do in adulthood is an exercise in futility. Worse still, you can degrade your relationship with them, or prevent them from absconding from the parental yoke (growing up). 

Of course, letting go never comes easy. So how should you approach this psychologically challenging task? 

Trust In The Process

Many parents fear that if they let go of the metaphorical reins, their children’s lives will spiral out of control. But don’t underestimate the ability of kids to self-regulate, especially in the long term. 

Of course, if they’ve been kept in prison conditions while growing up, always watching their step, then they are liable to go a bit mad for a while. They’ll be like cows getting their first taste of freedom in an open field after being kept in factory conditions. Skipping and exuberance are normal. 

Release Them Slowly

Ideally, you’ll want to start the release process as early as you can. The best time is the teenage years. When hormones are running high, kids want to spend more time alone, independently, and by themselves. It’s all totally natural. 

Around 12 to 14, you’ll want to start loosening the reins. Cut back on some of the parental injunctions and make it clear to your children that they are responsible for their own behaviour from now on. It’s not up to you, as the parent, to be the source of regulation. They’ll need to figure it out themselves. 

Get Creative With Letting Go

Instead of tearfully wishing your kids well on the morning they drive off to college with a white handkerchief flopping in your hand, be a little more creative with your goodbyes. 

For instance, start treating sixth form trips or vacations with penpals as final farewells. Get both you both used to the idea that your relationship is going to change considerably going forward. 

Let Them Be Themselves

The human personality is a powerful thing. You can’t really keep it down. The people your children are going is probably already baked in. Thinking you have power over that is unwise. 

That’s why it’s critical to let kids be themselves. No amount of stress or worry is going to change the final outcome. Their personalities will simply develop in the direction their brain chemistry and the world demands. 

Remember What It Felt Like For You

Lastly, it’s helpful to remember what it felt like for you when you left home first time around. You probably didn’t like it when your parents tried to handle your life for you. You wanted to take control yourself. 
It’s worth pointing out that there is no way you can prepare your child for every eventuality that makes them suffer. They will injure their physical bodies, get into fights, be hurt emotionally, and suffer at work. All these things are unavoidable in life. But what you can do is give them a safety net so they know they can always return to you if they need to.

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