If we do not empower our children to their own independence and freedom, they will find something to push against and then push away from. They will fight for their freedom and autonomy if we do not grant it. Good for them!
They will build a case against the parent so they can justify disregarding the parent and separating from them. If it’s not granted, the child’s freedom will have to be hard won. There is an energy that will build over time inside the child that will eventually propel them to finally escape your grasp.
It comes as a shock to a parent when becomes clear that the child is no longer trusts them or is interested in listening to them. But this escape velocity from the controlling gravitational pull of the parent had been building over time.
Coming back into the parent’s orbit of communication and influence after this, will not be something this child feels safe doing and it will create conflict when the parent tries to pull him back.
The child will eventually get his freedom, but at a cost. The relationship will suffer. If the freedom he desired was such a struggle to achieve, rather than being granted, trust will be low, and rightfully so.
Another way this plays out is this:
A parent could be particularly good at maintaining emotional control over the child into adulthood. This child never really gets his freedom. But this comes at a cost too. The relationship is close, but too close. The grown child remains in a emotional orbit around the parent, scared to fully express himself or venture out into the universe. Confidence and independence are low, and rightfully so. He doesn’t really know himself or how to believe in himself, because he was not taught how to.
I can’t imagine any parent choosing either of these situations, yet it happens all the time.
Empowerment is a central piece of parenting. This must be a constant part of parenting: from toddlerhood to teenage years and beyond. It must be our goal.
Here is your warning: The number one thing getting in the way of parent’s being able to skillfully and appropriately grant freedom is a desire for control. This comes from one’s own anxiety and fear, from the ego. We have to be willing to see the long term effects of our actions. We have to act in accordance of the best interests of our children.
Here is the upside. It can be done. It can be done skillfully and it can yield amazing results. Instead of power struggles and arguing, can you imagine empowered children taking responsibility for themselves and chipping in to help the family too. It is possible. But it will never happen if control is the goal.