Teaching Them Not to Need Us

With every passing year, the kids are becoming less kid-like and more self-sufficient. When they were babies and then toddlers, developments happened seemingly lightning-fast and without much verbal instruction. Our main concern was survival… but seriously. We dropped SO. MUCH. MONEY. on new shoes and clothes for their constantly elongating forms. We are putting more and more responsibility on them. We are teaching them not to need us.

Teaching them to do the inevitable, become adults, is fraught with emotions and challenges for all parties involved. One of our kids recently said he doesn’t want to become a man. He likes being a kid. Boy oh boy, do I relate to that. There are times I wish I was a kid again. Youth is great. But it’s not everything, and as far as I understand the most basic of basic principles of science, it’s not possible to stay one age forever.

Caterpillars have to go through a whole process to become butterflies and take flight.

It’s our job as parents to teach, guide, and model so many facets of adulthood for our children. Do I always do it perfectly? Absolutely not. Of course not. I’m inherently flawed (as we ALL are). Even now, at 40+ years old, I continue learning and growing. Learning by trial and error. Trying. This year, I’m speaking up for myself about things I haven’t felt comfortable broaching for YEARS or ever.

I recently saw this quote online and it resonated with me:

When you’re a kid, you don’t realize you’re also watching your parents grow up

There are times I think I’m sick of doing something for them and that’s why I’m “making” them learn to do it. But big-picture, it’s because they need to learn to do it, and I need to facilitate that.

Here are just some of the life skills we are working on currently:

  • kindness
  • generosity
  • respect
  • empathy
  • speaking well
  • writing well
  • reading for enjoyment
  • appropriate expression of emotions
  • gender equality
  • gender identity
  • appreciation of art and music
  • simple cooking and meal preparation
  • laundry
  • tidiness/cleanliness of spaces and bodies
  • pet care
  • accountability
  • To ask for what they want or need if they cannot do it alone. This is HUGE and has been ongoing since they could speak.

I’m not an expert in any of these. I don’t have everything figured out. I actually have very little figured out. We’re all amateurs, all of us parents. Some have more experience than others, but not a single one of us is The Supreme Parent Being. Raising children is one long, expensive social experiment that doesn’t come with a manual for your specific little ones. Just when you are feeling confident in your performance, they start lobbing curveballs at you. Like, to try to beam you in the head.

We want them to become responsible adults, productive members of society, and happy with their lives. Maybe they will have families of their own someday, if they want that. We are helping prepare them to be grown-ups. But we are also teaching them not to need us. As in not to fully depend on us for everything in their world. Of course, of course, we will be here for them always, until the last breath. Support in all ways.

When they are adults, I hope they at least know how to make memes, because I will need them to help me figure that out…

Just one of the many benefits of being a grown-up.
Jenny is a Madison transplant from Winona, MN, with imaginative and talkative twin boys Cameron and Carson, born November 2010, and one very old kitten Arabella, born March 2003, and one very young kitten JoJo, born May 2018. Her husband is a Madison native and suckered her in to staying. She graduated in 2001 from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a bachelor's degree in English Literature, currently working in financial services full-time and writing in her scant spare time when inspiration strikes. She tentatively blogs, with brutal honesty, on whippedcreamandkittens.com and frequently Instagrams. Besides whipped cream and kittens, she loves reading, writing, coffee, wine, cooking, traveling, movies, and spending time with family and close friends. Jenny is thrilled to be on the Madison Moms Blog team and happy to share her wacky and sarcastic tales of Madison momhood.


  1. Holding on while gently letting go…forever. It’s forever, yet it feels so brief. We’re teaching our kids while we’re also learning and growing, simultaneously. It’s exhausting, sometimes painful (emotionally and physically), and I hope that some of those lessons we’re teaching stick, for my kid and me. 💗


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