Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 27 October |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Emilina of Boulancourt
Aleteia logo
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

How to promote your child’s autonomy in tune with their own rhythm

Child; laces; shoes; autonomy

© Juice Flair I Shutterstock

Edifa - published on 11/24/20

Faster and earlier is not the goal when raising a resourceful, capable child.

“My son is very independent, he chooses his films or books and goes to bed all by himself at night!” proudly announces Adele, mother of 4-year-old Gaspard. And you think of your little 7-year-old who struggles to tie his shoes after gym class …

For over 40 years, discourse on education has considered autonomy a key educational objective and parents struggle to make their children autonomous. It is unlikely that things will change any time soon, so we can expect autonomy to be at the top of the agenda for our millions of modern day children. A quick glance at educational magazines will corroborate that there is no mercy for the non-autonomous! Moreover, the idea seems completely natural to parents: “Our children are faced with a complex world, they need to be able to get by on their own as quickly as possible,” confesses one mother. But what if this idealized autonomy was becoming a cover for individualism?

The autonomous child is a child who is trusted

Just as our hyperactive society fears the dependency of its senior members, the younger ones are warned not to stay in this state for too long. And yet, it is in this bond of interdependence that the mother-child relationship is built. It is this intimate closeness that marks mothering, making those first years a time of security. Tomorrow’s security grows out of today’s dependency—from which the child can only emerge in stages. If we push them  through it too quickly, we risk making young people pessimistic and sad.

Why not consider autonomy in terms of the family reality, adjusting to the rhythm of the children, their own needs and abilities? Even if this means lowering some standards and distancing yourself from “official” guidelines: tying their shoes at 7, buying bread at the store down the street at 8 … If your child doesn’t fit the mold, look at all they can do that isn’t in any school manual. Does your son read a story to his sister before bed? Does your daughter have a sense of humor like no one else? Does your child play word games? Does he or she comfort her friends?

Emotional intelligence, a sense of relationship, an ability to participate in family life: there are many signs that our children are growing up at their own pace in the family. They are signs of the breath that God breathes into them, that manifests itself in their uniqueness. Ultimately, it is important to build a relationship of trust and mutual awareness with our children, the only source of authentic autonomy. The shoelaces can wait!

Anne Gavini


Read more:
12 Enjoyable things to do with young adult kids who are back home during the pandemic

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
Meet Sandra Sabattini, a newly beatified 22-year-old
J-P Mauro
How St. Jerome’s pun made an apple the “forbidden fruit”
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio replied to John Paul II’s letter with a miracle
Theresa Civantos Barber
St. John Paul II’s perfect advice for lasting love in marriage
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
4 Steps of prayer to learn from today’s Gospel
John Burger
Member of the singing Von Trapp family dies in Vermont
Marinella Bandini
Exclusive: Carlo Acutis as seen by his mother
See More