Parenting Challenge #2: Helping Kids Become Independent Adults
Whether due to parenting trends (“helicoptering”) or being so connected to our kids (both in our close relationships and via our digital leashes), children are much less independent than we were at the same age. Twenty years ago, we were babysitting infants at age 13. Now, some of us hire babysitters for our 13 year olds! Ironically, kids are experimenting with drugs, sex, and other high-risk behaviors younger than ever, possibly as a result of feeling so little independence and control in their own lives. College freshman are struggling to adjust to being away from home, and many who start school away from their parents end up back at home. Colleges have staff dedicated to orienting and communicating with parents, who are closely involved from the application process right through to job interviews post college. Many college graduates move back home and slide right into a dependent lifestyle. This “endless adolescence” just isn’t natural. As a society, we are not doing a good job of launching our children into independent adult life.
My shy, quiet nine year old went to Gold Arrow Camp not knowing a soul. Two weeks later, my daughter came home transformed. She blossomed. She made friends, learned a multitude of activities, felt safe, loved, confident, and happy, really happy. As hard as it was on me, it was all worth it for her. I know this is the single best thing I have ever done for her.
Gold Arrow Camp parents understand the value of giving their children early, independent life experiences. While knowing their children are well-supervised in a safe, supportive community, parents feel great about giving their child the opportunity to have a few weeks of independence from them. Children as young as seven years old successfully complete two week camp stays and feel a great sense of pride and independence as a result. Without having their cell phone to immediately contact their parents with every question and need, kids learn to rely on themselves and seek support from their counselors and cabin mates.