This article is so interesting to me. My two daughters grew up in northern Westchester county in NY. Both have become strong young women with open minds for human rights, and duel viewpoints. They are now both in college and call/text every day with the most interesting stories, often humorous and sometimes just to talk about academics or friends. I think they are strong because they walked, biked, rode horses, had time to themselves, did volunteer work outside, were encouraged to read, and were praised for sharing their opinions whether right or wrong.
In grammar and middle school, they spent afternoons with friends and horses at our local pony club. So they were left alone on afternoons with a cell phone for emergency. The older girls would help them and they all cleaned tack and stalls and rode ponies. Throughout high school they volunteered at a therapeutic riding facility for special needs children where they connected with kids that had serious learning disabilities. Both girls without the other even knowing about it, wrote their college entry essays on their amazing experiences. And needless to say, volunteering is a perfect way to encourage kids to grow out of their egos and feel needed and therefor get the confidence they need. Both girls do NOT know how to sew. But they CAN wash their clothes! Might I add also that when the younger one could drive in her senior year she chose to join the local EMT as a volunteer and witnessed adults helping people. Kids being guided by other older kids gives them an incentive to be away from home and to gain independence and grow friendships. Let them walk! Drop them off and give them space.
My daughters are two years apart and are best friends. They both have separate friends, and still enjoy the outdoors – probably because I do. People drive fast along our country roads but the girls are aware of this and they run and ride bikes up to three miles away. My husband is not too outdoorsy, but I am, and I taught them how to respect nature, love it, and understand it. I always try to encourage them to learn, to listen, to read, and to be alone. When they said they were “bored” I gave them paper and art materials or a pen and some paper because that was the time for them to be creative, and to enjoy themselves. Quite often they just needed to go out and walk. A parent, that has a good rapport with their kids is what their kids need to be able to have the freedom to walk.
Both girls play oboe at college, and are amazing writers (and also great at languages , math and science, unlike me!). I believe they’re good writers and musicians because they actually have something to write about. I encouraged them to never be board, but to use their free time (which is limited because they are both hard workers) to volunteer and to also reflect on their day. My mom would say to me if I was working too much, “You need a break, go out and take a walk.”
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