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As a child and young adult, I was given lots of opportunities to develop independence. I went to a boarding school at age 14 that taught self-reliance by regularly sending me into the wilderness with only a scantily-filled backpack (no tents or fleece in those days). I was raised in California, but I went to college in New Hampshire, and after graduation, I moved to Chicago.
All of this was somewhat heart-breaking for my parents: They wanted me at home. My parents lobbied hard for local schools, and my father made me sign a contract (albeit on a napkin) saying I would not fall in love on the East Coast and marry and never return to California. (After my first New Hampshire winter, I reassured him that love couldn’t be that strong.)
My early independence worked out for me, and it didn’t cost our family anything in closeness, as we all live near each other now and see each other regularly.
I’d like to foster the same independence in my own children, too. But a recent article in The New York Times, “ The Go-Nowhere Generation,” made me realize that independence may no longer be stereotypically American. Read this post from my Greater Good blog and find out the how to foster independence in your kids.