It seems my blogging is incorporating more and more travels in the stories. I love how these life lessons have unfolded with perfect examples for them every week. This week I tackle the biggie – independence. Boy, when your kids stretch their independence wings, it can try on a person’s patience!
This week we are in Sylvan Grove, Kansas. Ironically of all places, we are in Kansas waiting out the storms all around us! We had a blast in Colorado, visiting friends and cousins for our last hoo-ra out West before we booked it East. As we assessed the weather, we high-tailed it out of Colorado just in the nick of time before the snow hit with gusto! Further East, the rainstorms were so intense we’ve had this little strip of calm in between to crazy weather bursts.
We landed in the heart of Lake Fork at Wilson State Park, and wow – it’s been exactly what we needed. Our best option is to stay here in between the storms until the weekend, and what has happened is this little gem of a place we’ve landed has become a perfect home sweet home. We’ve had down days to relax, clean up our little home on wheels, and even some spots of beautiful sunshine to explore the park.
What we found was the fabulous Switchback Mountain Biking Trail. This is 21 miles of awesomeness that has been granted the “Epic” award from the International Mountain Biking Association (it was #30 of #55 “epic” trails in the world!)
Nathan, who just got to experience mountain biking in Moab, Utah, wasn’t expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised. He was eager to get our whole crew out there. And that’s where our lesson comes in for this week.
Lesson #2: Foster Independence
There are two lasting things we can give our children. One is roots, the other, wings.
This is a hand-stitched piece that hung in my family home all through my childhood. This is the pinnacle of what my parents believed. I’m thrilled to have this hanging now in our little trailer as a reminder. We, as parents, want so badly to “train our children up in the way they should go,” yet we can get so fixated on our own hopes and agendas that we never give up control enough to let their own wings spread.
Spreading Her Wings
Little Juliet is a mere 4 years old. She started riding a two-wheel bike when we first started our adventures. Jules is, shall we say, a bit of a daredevil on her bike. She already has a sweet scar on her forehead from her performing tricks for friends and splitting her forehead open on the concrete!
Of course, a first mountain biking attempt did not sound fun if she had to ride on Daddy’s trail-a-bike. She was ready for the adventure and thrill of the ride, so she begged and pleaded to ride her own bike. Ah, independence. As a high D, she didn’t so much beg as she told us this is what was going to happen. And as you’ll learn in one of our other valuable lessons, there are times where we pick our battles, and this was not a big deal. It just meant we would go a wee bit slower.
So off we went. Little Miss Independence rocked it. I asked Juliet what she thought, and she said “The tagalong is a baby bike for me, so I never want to do it! It makes me so happy when I ride bikes because there are so many fun things I can do on my bike! Here are the words straight from the babe:
Ah. Here I am wanting to keep her safe, and she cries for independence with a very valid point – the tagalong is super bumpy! She’s learned the more control she has with her bike riding, the more she is able to enjoy the ride and not simply tolerate the bumps. Boy are there some life-lessons in that concept!
What to do? Set a firm foundation!
Start things out with a solid foundation. The foundation with the mountain bike ride was plenty of focused time with Juliet teaching her to navigate various terrain. Then, we started with a super easy mountain bike trail. We gave her love and support, encouraging her and pushing her, challenging her to gain momentum in the downhills and push it for the uphills.
Give a firm foundation – what are the essential principles your family believes in? We wrote our Family Vision and boiled it down to six words:
- Explore, Respect
- Listen, Connect
- Learn & Love
This is the foundation of all we do. We want to create life-long learners, who respect others around them even when they believe differently.
The bottom line…
I want my children to always feel heard, and understand the importance of listening to others to fully connect.
We want them to have critical thinking skills that allow them to go out there and find the answers to anything they have questions for.
And above all, we want them to be love. Yes, love looks different to every person. But love, to us, is opening our heart to grace, respect, and acceptance – of self and of others.
We have the foundation. Equally important, however, are wings. Simply drilling these principles in their heads makes them queens of memorization, but not application. How do they apply these principles in their lives?
The answer is simple.
We give them freedom to try it out.
Foster independence in your children. You won’t always be around. While you are, allow them a safe place to test their wings. Let them explore and grasp the concept of natural consequences.
Here is your challenge for the week. Let go of one thing you are doing for your children. It may be wiping their hiney, combing their hair, or cooking breakfast for them. What can you give your children that adds to their life skills while also lessening your to-do list for the day? Share what you choose in the comments below!