On My Own

by

I was 11 years old when I took public transportation on my own to go to school. Travel time from our home was about 20 to 30 minutes then. Traffic was free-flowing during those days and only a few cars and jeepneys would traverse the major thoroughfares.

We didn’t have a helper growing up so my mother would do most of the chores in the house. But she would always ask me to run some errands for her. Getting a few grocery items or buy veggies at the nearby market would be an exciting adventure for me and our BMX bike. And now that I am a mother myself, I took to heart the way my mother raised me, to be independent and responsible at a young age.

Last Sunday afternoon as I was relaxing in our room, Jianne stormed in asking for money. When I asked why, she hurriedly pulled me outside and showed me what Coby was doing. I saw this boy carefully counting his money on a ledge.

So I asked again what will he do with the money and he told me he wanted to buy Halo-halo from the bakery. Halo-Halo is a favorite Filipino dessert of shaved ice, milk and sweetened fruits like bananas, jackfruit and beans. We also add fresh strips of coconuts, nata de coco (jellied coconut water), flan and ice cream.

He needed twenty five pesos to buy one plastic cup of halo-halo but he was short on cash. He only had twenty two. I gladly gave him what he lacked and he happily tucked his money in his pocket. He hopped on his Mongoose bike and rode a block and a half from our home to the bakery. He is a safe rider and stays on the side of the road as his Papa always reminds him. I am confident that he can successfully get his snack without me.

When Coby was younger he was always hesitant to try new things or wouldn’t go anywhere without me or his Papa. Now, he is unstoppable. He rides his bike to our old apartment which is also a block away and looks for his old playmates. It was a surprise to me knowing he was venturing out safely and confidently.

Our kids are growing up at a rapid rate that slowing down the process is like stopping a high-speed train. Their minds were wired to discover things and created with the will to assert their independence. They want to do “grown up” things. But asserting their independence could lead to power struggle in the home especially for our tweens. Parents need to instill in our kids that true independence demands responsibility.

He noticed his hunched back in this photo

He noticed his posture in this photo and said it was not good but he agreed to post it nonetheless

Unfortunately, here in the Philippines most families have helpers at home. I have nothing against having helpers at home  they are saving all of us a great deal of housework. But at times our kids become crippled because of them. Instead of doing things at home which they are physically capable of, they ask their loyal helpers to do it for them. Their supposed hands-on training are impeded because somebody else is doing it for them.

Simple tasks like fixing their beds in the morning or preparing their clothes or bags for school or church is a task any 10-year-old or even 7-year-old can do. Focus on the Family’s  suggests age-appropriate chores that would be helpful to us parents as we teach our kids to be responsible members of the family with or without a helper.

Coby is turning 11 next week and loves to cook his own instant noodles for snack. I had to teach him how to do it first and guide him especially when turning on the gas stove. After a couple of tries and messes in the dining table, he confidently prepares a snack for him and his sister. When they wake up in the morning and I am out of the house, he prepares his own breakfast and washes the dishes too when asked 🙂 

It’s a little scary to see him mature. My happy baby boy is speeding his way towards adolescence. His voice is getting deeper and his shoulders are getting broader. He is growing taller by the second in fact, he is as tall as me as of writing!

But I can still freely kiss and hug him whenever I want. He does not despise the Mama kisses, hopefully never. He has become more of a hugger these days too. He expresses his by hugs and verbally shows his appreciation. He is getting the feel of how it is to become a big brother and is serious at his role.

I could never be so proud of him as I sat at the front steps of our home waiting for his return. Jianne exclaimed as she saw her older brother ride in with a cup of halo-halo sealed in a plastic bag in his other hand. I could see the joy in his face for this accomplishment and it was a milestone worth celebrating with a refreshing halo-halo.

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

On a side note, this April, we are seriously considering letting him join this summer’s Kids Camp. My heart tells me not to but my mind is convincing me otherwise. This would be a great opportunity for him to be on his own technically because we are not there with him. But he will be surrounded and protected by capable Sunday school teachers and volunteers as well as other parents too.

CCF Alabang presents International Spy Academy (Agents for the One True God) Kids Camp to be held on April 7-9, 2014 at CCT Tagaytay.

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photo courtesy of CCF Alabang NextGen Ministry

Clearly, there are still a lot of things our adolescent kids can’t do yet. They can’t have driving lessons, even if Coby is too eager to do this now. They can’t go out on group dates or hang out at Starbucks with their friends. First of all, Starbucks at 11 years old? Secondly, I wouldn’t dare give him money for that. Also, they can’t be romantically involved with the opposite sex, not until they are already working and ready for marriage.

The pride of a parent is to see his or her child follow the growth path the Lord has individually laid out for them. God will provide ways for our children to exercise their independence which will consequently develop their responsibility. The key is that parents be in tune with the Father, the Creator, so that we can encourage our children to be in tune with Him also.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

There are some things we do as parents that either encourage or stifle our kids’ growth and independence. What are ways you encourage independence and teach responsibility to your kids? Let’s share in the comments section below.

  • Joannah Leonardo

    In as much as we have to be constantly supportive of our kids, we also have to let them make decisions for themselves; let them take risks; let them ‘fail’ if necessary; let them feel the pain of a mistake; let them ‘get up’ from a ‘fall’ on their own; let them have the chance to take credit for their own success. Let them live life…

    • Hi Joanna! I agree with you completely. We cannot protect them all the time. The lessons they learn when we let go of the reins are God’s way of building up their character. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day!