Is it such a good idea to teach your children to be independent?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard well-meaning parents (Christian and non-Christian… it makes no difference) say that they want their kids to learn independence.
I get it. Really, I do.
I know that what they mean is that they want their kids to learn things like personal responsibility, how to be a self-starter, social skills, and confidence.
See, I do get it.
But if that’s one of the main things you think about when it comes to parenting you’re going to make some huge mistakes and you’re going to set your kids up for some serious struggles later in life.
According to the Bible, our kids need to learn DEPENDENCE, rather than INDEPENDENCE.
By the way, WE PARENTS need to learn the exact same thing.
What happens when “independent kids” is your parenting goal…
Whenever we buy the cultural lie that what our kids really need is to learn to be independent, we begin to parrot the party line that pushes us and our kids away from God.
When raising “independent kids” is a primary parenting goal you’ll do some silly things.
- You will say foolish things to them like, “You can be/do anything you want to be/do.”
The problem with this one is that it’s not true. My son can’t be a daughter. My daughter may not be gifted to become a physicist. My son may want to play guitar like Phil Keaggy, but he may not have the physical dexterity, no matter how much he practices.
When we parrot this silly statement to our kids we are implying that they don’t have any limits or boundaries, when they really do.
- You will give them more freedom than they are capable of handling wisely.
There’s nothing wrong with giving your children freedom, where appropriate. But if you give them freedom in areas where they should not have it they will begin to think that they are the center of their world and that there are few, if any, legitimate boundaries.
Young children don’t need the freedom to wander around the sanctuary during the singing time at church. They need to learn to sit/stand next to their parents respectfully, being considerate of the other people in the room. I’m amazed at parents who allow that sort of thing and are confused why their child won’t come (or runs the other direction) when they are called.
A toddler doesn’t need the freedom to choose what they are going to eat for lunch. It’s actually funny that parents will do this and then be shocked that their children are picky eaters.
What AM I talking about?
Consider how many times the word “trust” is used in the Bible (85 times in the ESV). Then consider what it means:
reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
Then consider that the overwhelming number of times the Bible encourages trust, it is telling us that we are to trust in God.
Not in other people.
Not in ourselves.
Not in circumstances.
Not in wishful thinking.
In God. Alone.
Our children need to learn proper, biblical, Christ-like humility – not independence.
They need to learn to
- humble themselves under the LORD (1 Peter 5:6)
- see themselves rightly according to who God has made them (Romans 12:3)
- rely on the LORD, not on themselves (Proverbs 3:5)
- consider the needs of others around them first (Philippians 2:4)
- understand that their faithful efforts are overseen, prospered, and rewarded by God (Galatians 6:7-9)
- depend on the strength Christ provides, because they can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5)
Please DO teach your children things like personal responsibility, how to be a self-starter, social skills, and confidence.
But do it in the way the Bible teaches… not by going with the flow of the culture we live in.
Your kids will thank you. Your home will be more peaceful. Other people will find your kids to be a blessing, and you’ll find that God’s ways really ARE the best.