4 Things my Daughter Learned About Being Independent
“Independence is happiness.” Susan B. Anthony
Since last year, my daughter, Arissa, wants to go to an event in USA where her favourite actors put on a show and give autographs or photo ops.
We’ve instilled in her the idea of being independent, but we have to start implementing these habits now instead of waiting until she’s eighteen.
What is independence?
It’s standing on your two feet without being overly dependent on others. It’s about autonomy - the ability to make decisions for yourself based on the things you’ve learned about the world, your experiences, perceptions, and feelings, and how you interact with the world. Independence is empowering.
The event ticket itself, per person, is US$ 280 and photo ops are extra. Unfortunately, I can’t go as I’m doing a virtual training for a medical clinic during that time, but she agreed to pay for her dad and herself, and any extras.
Where is she getting the money from?
Arissa knew that in order to achieve her goal she needs to raise money. She had some birthday money but that wasn’t enough. Here’s what she decided to do on her own, with our approval:
- Garage sale (which her dad and I never have time to do), and we decided to split the money: 60% for her and 40% for parents.
- Working at the wellness centre when we need her. Fortunately, she got a job from her aunt and uncle - taking pictures and creating a catalogue for their products on Canva (she’s a great photographer).
- Sell her paintings for $20 (she loves painting classes) and she still has a few to sell!
As a parent, we want to make our teenagers happy and give them the best, but when they really want something, make them “sweat a little”. Ask them, “How are you going to contribute?” or “How are you going to raise money for what you want?”
Note: we do not pay our children for household chores because that is part of being a family, but if you’re in a country where hiring household help is a culture, then paying your child for chores is fine.
Here are four things she learned to help foster valuable independence:
1. She learned responsibility
We are allowing her the freedom to achieve her goal. She can go to this event with one of us, but she has to find a way to pay for the event.
2. She became creative and resourceful
Now that she had a goal to achieve, she became determined. I recall her reading a blog post on how to make money as a kid! She had great ideas.
3. She learned how to be organized, autonomous and confident
This isn’t something that comes naturally to most people, but it is a skill that can be learned and honed to perfection. We gave her items to sell at the garage sale, but she priced it all and laid it out for the sale. She sat in the garage negotiating sales with adults and she’d talk them into buying something. There is great freedom in being able to properly assert yourself.
4. She became aware of her strengths
During my trainings on “Resiliency in the Workplace”, I encourage the idea of stretching the Resilience Zone – where you take ownership of any setbacks and reset yourself to bounce back; where you do the unfamiliar and crush status quo.
- She didn’t know how to insert pictures into a word document and was getting frustrated. Instead she found an easier program to create a catalogue.
- She had never done a garage sale, let alone negotiate deals! But this experience made her realize that she could sell!
When you invest in stretching your resilience zone, not only do you become aware of your strengths, but you build new ones in the process and blow your limiting beliefs out of the water.
Staying “independent” by forcing yourself to be alone isn’t the right kind of independence. Dependence doesn’t mean you’re weak, spineless, or can’t do anything for yourself. Both independence and dependence are good, necessary, and healthy - and they don’t oppose each other as you might think.
Learning to stand on our own two feet isn’t stating that dependence is unattractive or undesirable. It is healthy to be able to trust others.
What I’m teaching my child is goal-setting, decision-making, choices and consequences, budgeting, being resilient in the face of challenges, and most of all creating her own happiness.