Officially, my job as a parent has an objective and that is to make sure my son is equipped with the ability to live on his own. I must make sure that he is constantly challenged with independence. And while that might sound like a huge challenge, it really isn't. I mean, kids come with this inner drive to be independent. Ask any mother of a two year old and she'll laugh when you talk about her little one saying, "I can do it myself." And she'll roll her eyes if you ask her how long it took her little sprite to get herself dressed that morning (and most likely, the conversation will lead to just how long her kiddo has been wearing her brother's Batman costume and rain boots.)
I guess what I'm trying to say, is that Young One is a pretty independent kid. Now, this does come with a price, as in, cleaning up the kitchen (with his help, of course) after he's successfully splattered Chicken Noodle-Os all over the stove, counter, and floor. But, he had to learn how to not make a mess and the best way to learn that lesson is to have to clean up one of your own in the first place!
At this point in his rearing (a strange word, if I do say so myself), I've realized that it would take MORE work to do for him than it does to have him do something himself. So, perhaps we've turned a bit of a corner. Our relationship now is more about guidance, friendship, and laundry. I guide, we hang out together, and he produces a lot of laundry. Actually, he helps with the laundry too, so that's not even that bad.
I know a lot of parents who won't let their kids grow independent and I wonder what price this smothering has on their children. Is it that they need to be needed, need to guarantee that they have this job called parenting. Is it that they can't stand the thought of the messes that might initially result from independent exploration in the kitchen or that their kid just might not get the bathtub as sparkling clean as they can? Or worse yet, that they might suffer some freak accident, getting soap in their eyes or cutting themselves on a butter knife? These things may all very well happen, but they may not, as my dear old dad used to say.
As parents, we give roots and wings to our kids. Sometimes the wings are harder to give. I'll admit, that only having one child, I don't have room for mistakes (not like you think of your kids as spares, but I have only one chance to do this job). So, I can be a little overprotective when it comes to independent voyages to the men's room or riding his bike alone to a friend's house. But, when it comes to independent life skills, I'm all over it. Fly, Young One, fly. I'd much rather stand back and watch him succeed after many failures than fail to let him succeed.