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Parenting: Roots and Wings
Parenting: Roots and Wings

Having children means both holding on and letting go, depending on their age and the circumstances. In her new book INTERACTIVE MODELING, author Margaret Berry Wilson offers some great guidance for teachers, parents and friends of kids.

Most parents want their children to be family-centered and value-oriented, plus down-to-earth and always safe. So you give them roots or life lessons to teach them what matters, who they should rely on, when to worry, when to let go, and how to prioritize. But most parents also want their kids to be independent, to have some adventures and growth opportunities, to learn life lessons, and to help them mature. That’s where the wings come in. If you hold on too tightly, your children might end up relying on you as an adult, being too afraid to try new things in life, being clingy and insecure. So it’s a balancing act that parents often struggle with. Did I give too much space to grow? Did I clip their wings and hold them back too much?

Wilson offers a few tips in her book to help parents teach their children responsibility, independence and sharing, and learning when you as a parent should let go:

1. Keep the instructions short.

2. Give a brief explanation of why you’re doing it that way. “We want to stay safe.” “We like to take turns.”

3. Give positive reinforcement often. Draw attention to the positive behaviors you see.

4. Look for cooperation, not absolute compliance.

5. Keep your expectations realistic.

6. Have fun. Let a few decision-making moments go. Let your child make an extra selection now and then, let them pick what you’re having for dinner, let them pick out what to wear, let them decide which game to play. And throw in an extra scoop of ice cream of a treat sometimes just to see them laugh! You’ll get more cooperation next time.